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The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-1968 


The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-1968 

Organized by Germano Celant 
Preface by Umberto Eco 
Designed by Massimo Vignelli 

760 pages 

j/5 full-color reproductions, 161 duotones, 

and 316 black-and-white illustrations 

This book, published on the occasion of a major 
exhibition mounted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, celebrates the flowering of Italian creativity in 
the twenty-five year period that began with the fall of 
the Fascist regime. After the devastation wrought by 
World War II, Italy underwent a massive reconstruction, 
touching off public debates that examined every sphere, 
from the formation of the new government, to the 
architectural style for rebuilding destroyed cities, to the 
choice between abstract and figurative art to best depict 
Italy's changing realities. By 1968 Italy had earned 
international success in many areas — most notably 
fashion, industrial design, and cinema — which 
contributed to seemingly miraculous economic growth. 
But many young Italians had begun to question the 
extravagant consumption and concomitant waste that 
were the by-products of economic expansion. Social 
upheaval, in the form of protests and strikes, brought 
this remarkable period to a close. 

The Italian Metamorphosis, 1945-1968 is the first book to 
bring together all aspects of Italian visual culture from 
this fascinating period. Through seventeen scholarly 
essays and hundreds of lavish full-color and duotone 
reproductions, this volume captures the era's greatest 
achievements in the fields of painting, sculpture, artists' 
crafts, literature, photography, cinema, fashion, 
architecture, and design. Also included are translations 
of major manifestos written by artists and critics, as well 
as an extensive chronology encompassing the cultural 
and political history of the period. 

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The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-1968 

Organized by Germano Celant 




The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943- 1968 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 
October 7, 1994— January 22, 1995 

Triennale di Milano 
February— May 1995 

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg 
May— September 1995 

©1994 Progetti Museali Editore, Rome 

© 1994 ENEL, Rome 

©1994 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York 

All rights reserved 

ISBN 0-8109 -6871 -1 (hardcover) 

ISBN 0-89207 -116 -8 (softcover) 

Printed in Italy by Arnaldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A. 

Guggenheim Museum Publications 
1071 Fifth Avenue 
New York, N.Y 10128 

Hardcover edition distributed by 
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 
100 Fifth Avenue 
New York, N.Y. 10011 

Honorary Patrons of the Exhibition 

His Excellency Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 
President of the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Silvio Berlusconi, 

President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Antonio Martino, 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Domenico Fisichella, 

Minister of Cultural Affairs of the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Giorgio Bernini, 

Minister of Foreign Trade of the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Boris Biancheri, 

The Ambassador of the Republic of Italy to the United States 

The Honorable Reginald Bartholomew, 

The Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Italy 

His Excellency Francesco Paolo Fulci, 

Representative of the Republic of Italy to the United Nations 

The Honorable Franco Mistretta, 
Consul General of the Republic of Italy 

The Honorable Rudolph W. Giuliani, 
Mayor of the City of New York 

Dr. Ugo Calzoni, 

Chairman and C.E.O. of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade 

(Italian Trade Commission) 

Dr. Franco Viezzoli, 
Chairman of ENEL 

Ing. Vittorio Rimbotti, 

Chairman of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana 

Dr. Umberto Silvestri, 



Thomas Krens 


Cinema, the Leading Art 

Gian Piero Brinutla 


You Must Remember This . 

Umberto Eco 


Visconti's Senso: Cinema and Opera 

Teresa de Laureth 


Reasons for a Metamorphosis 

Germano Celant 

In Total Freedom: 
Italian Art, 1943— 1968 
Germano Celant 


Painting and Beyond: 

Recovery and Regeneration, 1943 -19 5 2 

Mania E. Vetrocq 


Cinema, catalogue numbers 472-501 


From Haute Couture to Pret-a-porter 

Luigi Settembrim 


Italian Fashion and America 

Valerie Steele 


Fashion, catalogue numbers 502 — 602 


Before the End of the Journey: 

Testimony across the Atlantic 

Anna Costantini 


Art, catalogue numbers 1 — 230 


The Revival of Glass and Ceramics 

Micaela Martegani Laini 


Art in Jewels 

Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi 


Artists' Crafts, catalogue numbers, 231—329 


The Literature of Art 

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco 


Reconstructing a History 
Vittorio Gregotti 


Architecture, catalogue numbers 603-723 


Rebuilding the House of Man 

Dennis Doordan 


Italian Design and the Complexity of Modernity 

Andrea Branzi 


Italian Industial Aesthetics and the 

Influence of American Industrial Design 

Penny Sparke 


Design, catalogue numbers 724-78 


Reality and Italian Photography 

halo Zannier 


"Paparazzi on the Prowl" 
Jennifer Blessing 


Photography, catalogue numbers 366-471 


The Political History of Italy from the 
Fall of Fascism to the Student Revolts 
Giorgio Gall/ 


Lisa Panzera 



Lenders to ihe Exhibition 

This exhibition is sponsored by Moda Made in Italy, a 
program of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade 
(Italian Trade Commission), under the auspices of the 
Italian Ministry for Foreign Trade, and by the Centro di 
Firenze per la Moda Italiana. 

Significant support has been provided by TELECOM 
ITALIA, with additional assistance from the Murray and 
Isabella Rayburn Foundation, Inc. and the National 
Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency. 

The museum thanks the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
for its cooperation and support. 

The exhibition catalogue — in a traditional printed version 
as well as in a CD-ROM format — has been published by 
ENEL and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

Sponsor Statement 

With The Italian Metamorphosis, 194} 1968, the Guggenheim Museum 
has undertaken an ambitious project: to represent through a wide 
range <>t artistic expressions the mam transformations that took place 
in Italy in tins period. The challenge was a tempting on< . an 
opportunity not to be missed: to present on the same stage the various 
l. nets that help define Italy today — its image as a nation ol art whose 
present is deeply rooted in its past. 

Among the various se< tions in< luded in Tht Italian Metamorphos, 
fashion provides a vivid demonstration ol just how much Italy lias 
changed. The exhibition recounts the birth of contemporary Italian 
fashion, first through the vision oi .1 Florentine, and later through the 
achievements of the top COUture houses, which were- inspired bj the- 
artistic patrimony of Italy to make an important fashion statement. 
This great period of production and communication gave- rise to the- 
phenomenon "Made in Italy," in which fashion and design have b< 
the standard bearers. 

We deeply share the Guggenheim's enthusiasm in illustrating this 
evolution and the underlying technical know-how that has helped to 
shape it through the past and present. The spirit explored bj 
Italian Metamorphosii is similar to that pursued by the Italian Institute 
for Foreign Trade and the Italian federations of fashion producers, 
through the special "Moda Made in Italy" project, which falls under 
the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Tr.ule. lor this reason. 
Moda Made in Italy, which seeks to promote Italian fashion, has 
become the principal sponsor of Tin Italian Metamorphoi 

Since the period covered by this exhibition, fashie>n — the very 
embodiment e)f change — has become an even more- important se< tor 
in Italy, both as an expression of its culture and as a crucial 
component of its economy. This has resulted from a uniquely Italian 
approach, in which sensitivity, craft, taste, and tradition art (used 
with modern manufacturing technolt>gies te> reflect a wider, cultural 
metamorphosis. Its success is a great testimony to the intuitions e>t 
those who, in the early 1950s, believed in Italian fashion and its 
preeminent role as a cultural and artistic statement. 

The extraordinary cooperation the Guggenheim has offered us is 
dtie, in part, to the important contribution of the Centro di Firenze 
per la Moda Itahana, which served as the bridge between the Solomon 
R. Guggenheim Museum and the protect "Moda Made in Italy 

To view the transformations that Italy has undergone, how its 
forms of artistic expression have changed, and how these changes 
relate to the wider changes seen throughout our country's histor\. is an 
important exercise in reflection for tis and ror anyone wishing to 
understand Italy. It helps us to look pe>sitively at today's challenges 
while remembering the road traveled, and forces us to revive the deep 
and ancient bases of our statements te> the world, many ol which are 
still very current, and to recognize them as a rich source of new ideas 

Dr. Ugo Calzoni 
Chairman andC.E.O. 
/ML lt<<l'<<>> liiititutt for Tonign TraJt I Italian TraJi. ( nmtuiMmni) 

Sponsor Statement 

From its inception, The Italian Metamorphosis, 194-1-1968 has been 
supported and promoted with enthusiasm by the Centro di Firenze 
per la Moda Italiana. 

Significant for us, apart from the intrinsic value of the event itself, 
is the unprecedented inclusion of fashion in an exhibition mounted by 
the Guggenheim Museum, and its presentation alongside other 
artistic forms to document the Italian contribution to contemporary 
aesthetics and a crucial moment in the history of Italian society. 

Our own work has been moving in this direction for some time. 
The Centro has become one of the most important laboratories in 
Italy for the creation of strategies, projects, and cultural and 
communication events concerning fashion from Italy and abroad. 

The commitment of the Centro and its operative companies — Pitti 
Immagine and EMI — to contemporary fashion and its relationship to 
culture springs from the knowledge that it represents a new frontier 
for those creating, producing, and thinking about this area today. In 
recent years, this commitment has resulted in important exhibitions, 
theatrical events, fashion shows, congresses, research papers, 
publications, and training programs. These have allowed us to form 
valuable working relationships with cultural institutions of 
international importance, such as the Louvre, the Galleria del 
Costume, Florence (which we thank for its constant help and support), 
the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art, the 
Munchner Stadtmuseum, and now the Guggenheim Museum. 

This commitment will take us into the future with new and 
important projects in the conviction that fashion is one of the great 
industries of contemporary culture. 

Vittorio Rimbotti 

Chairman of the Centro di Firenze per la Mod a Italiana 

Copublisher's Statement 

ENEL, the Italian ele< tri< power company, has long understood that 
only with light — the primary clement ot its business- -can .irt realize 
its full potential as an evo< ative and effe< tive i ommunii ation 


The language of art is universal. Art is uniquely able to 
communicate with a wide audience at the same rime it reaches the 
sensibility and < ultural dimensions of an individual 1 lowever, this 

ability is only a potential one. 

Every work ot an, every monument, requires the proper lighting in 
order to communicate its meaning successfully. Illumination enha 
art's every value. 

To aid this fundamental process, ENEL has established the Luce 
per I'Arte™ (Light tor Art) program Tins program provides tor the 
design and installation of major illumination systems tor masterpieces 
of Italian art and some of the country's most important monuments; it 
also encompasses myriad communication tools, such as scholarly 
volumes on art, ( D-ROMs, and multimedia systems. 

The goal of ENEL's Luce per I'Arte iM program is to enhant e the 
value of Italy's artistic heritage, so rich in masterpieces and 
monuments. Understanding art is made easier through these tools ol 
communication, which increase public awareness of art while never 
betraying the cause of scholarship. 

The Italian Metamorphosis, 1945—1968 provides the American public 
with an opportunity to discover the rich and complex visual culture 
produced in Italy during this period ol great artistic, social, and 
political transformation. 

These were the years of the reconstruction of Italy and development 
ol the "Italian System," in which the electrical industry played a vital 

ENEL is pleased to participate in this exhibition by lending its 
skills and resources in the area of communications technology I \EL 
has produced — for the first time in the Guggenheim's history — an 
exhibition catalogue in a CD-ROM format. This innovative technolog] 
allows viewers to explore all aspects ol this complex exhibition in a 
new and appealing way; the ( D-ROM provides an easy-to-use 
computerized link between the most important milestones of Italian 
art of this period, the artists who created them, and the context in 
which they were made. ENEL is also the copublisher with the 
Guggenheim of the exhibition catalogue in its more traditional, 
printed form. 

These projects are but two examples ol the rich fruits that have 
been born through ENEL's involvement with Italian art. 

Dr. Franco Viezzoli 
Chairman of ENEL 


Thomas Krens 

The initiative that has come to fruition in The Italian Metamorphosis, 
ip43—ip68 has been fostered and sustained by the Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Foundation's longstanding commitment to European art 
and its special relationship with Italy. 

From its inception in 1937 the Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Foundation has focused on collecting and exhibiting the work of 
European artists. Through the direction of his adviser Hilla Rebay von 
Ehrenwiesen, Solomon R. Guggenheim committed himself to 
supporting many continental avant-garde artists and presenting their 
work to the American public — often for the first time. When his 
niece Peggy Guggenheim bequeathed her important art collection and 
the Venetian palazzo that housed it to the Guggenheim Foundation in 
1976, the foundation became the first, and to this day only, American 
art institution operating in both Europe and the United States. 

Shortly after World War II ended, Peggy Guggenheim had moved 
permanently from New "York to Venice. She brought her famous 
collection of Surrealist and abstract art with her, showing it at the 
Venice Biennale in 1948 and in various European cities before 
installing it in her home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which she 
opened to the public on a limited basis. For Italians her collection was 
a revelation; it contained works that were little known since avant- 
garde art had been suppressed by the Fascist regime. In addition, 
Guggenheim began to support the work of Italian artists in an effort 
to help them attain a wider public. 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum renewed and expanded 
Peggy Guggenheim's enterprise with the appointment of Germano 
Celant to the position of Curator of Contemporary Art in 1988. Celant 
has long advocated an internationalist stance in contemporary art. As 
early as 1969, in the Italian and English editions of his book Arte 
Povera, Celant intermingled the work of American and European 
artists, fomenting an international network of vanguard artistic 
creativity that he continues to document in such exhibitions as Mario 
Merz in 1989 and the forthcoming Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology. 
Conceived and organized by Celant, The Italian Metamorphosis is born 
of his desire to introduce the American public to the vast panorama of 
Italian visual culture in the postwar period, which is only now 
beginning to be examined in a systematic way. 

In order to illuminate the complex dynamic and diversity of the 
arts in Italy in the twenty-five year period from 1943 through 1968, 
Celant has organized the exhibition into fields of artistic endeavor, 
calling upon leading experts to curate sections dedicated to their areas 
of expertise. Celant has curated the Art section, as well as overseen 
the entire project. Noted architect and designer Andrea Branzi has 
organized the Design section; Gian Piero Brunetta, the leading film 
scholar, has curated the Cinema section, as well as provided the 
presentation of film clips in the exhibition; prominent art historian 
Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco has organized the Literature of Art section, 
to which he has also lent a considerable number of books and 
documents from his personal collection; internationally renowned 
architect and architectural historian Vittorio Gregotti has curated the 
Architecture section; prominent fashion specialist Luigi Settembrini 
has curated the Fashion section, documenting the rise of Italian 
fashion beginning in the early 1950s; consulting curator Pandora 
Tabatabai Asbaghi has organized the Artists' Crafts section, 
including ceramics, glass, and jewelry designed by artists; and Italo 
Zannier, the eminent historian of photography, has curated the 
Photography section, to which he has also lent works from his 
personal collection. We are grateful for the tremendous contribution 
made by each of these curators toward the realization of this 
exhibition. The vast experience and scholarly commitment of these 
experts has determined its final contents. And their generous 
contribution of personal resources, both intellectual and material, has 
immeasurably enriched it. 

Continuing the museum's practice of collaborating with renowned 
architects and designers, we are most fortunate to have had the 
opportunity to work with internationally recognized architect Gae 
Aulenti, who has designed the installation of the exhibition. Aulenti 
has orchestrated the show's multiplicity of artistic languages into a 
beautiful chorus that resonates in the Frank Lloyd Wright building 
and the Gwathmey Siegel addition. 

Any exhibition of the scope and scale of The Italian Metamorphosis 
cannot be realized without the support and assistance of many 
individuals and organizations. For this show we have borrowed 

viii Acknowledgments 

important and cherished works from more than 200 generous 
individuals and institutions. While every lender is acknowledged in 
the list on pages 726 — 27, we reiterate our debt of gratitude to our 
professional colleagues, whose efforts on our behalf have enabled us to 
present the exhibition in its final form: at Civico Museo d'Arte 
Contemporanea, Milan, Maria Teresa Fiorio; at Civico Museo 
Revoltella, Trieste, Maria Masau Dan; at FAE Musee d'Art 
Contemporain, Pully-Lausanne, Asher Edelman; at Galleria Civica 
d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Rosanna Maggio Serra; at 
Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna, Spoleto, Bruno Rossi; at Galleria 
del Costume, Florence, Cristina Piacenti; at Galleria Internazionale 
d'Arte Moderna-Ca Pesaro, Venice, Giandomenico Romanelli; at 
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, Augusta 
Monferini; at Herning Kunstmuseum, Torben Thuesen; at Musee des 
Arts Decoratifs de Montreal, Luc D'Iberville and Dianne 
Charbonneau; at Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges 
Pompidou, Paris, Germain Viatte; at Museo di Storia della Fotografia 
Fratelli Alinari, Florence, Claudio De Polo; at the Museum of Fine 
Arts, Houston, Peter C. Marzio; at the Museum of Modern Art, New 
York, Peter Galassi, Terence Riley, Kirk Varnedoe, Magdalena 
Dabrowski, and Cora Rosevear; at the Newark Museum, Mary Sue 
Sweeney Price; at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, 
Armin Zweite; at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Anne d'Harnoncourt; 
and at Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Evert J. van Straaten, 
J. B.J. Bremer, and Marianne Brouwer. 

We express our deep appreciation to the various artists' families 
and archives that have been exceedingly cooperative in lending, or 
helping us locate, important works, and graciously responding to 
myriad queries for information and reproductions: Minsa Craig Burri 
and Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, "Collezione Burri," Citta di 
Castello; Valeria Manzoni Di Chiosca; Teresita Fontana and 
Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan; Fabio Carapezza Guttuso and 
Archivio Guttuso, Rome; Fondazione Marini San Pancrazio, Florence; 
Marta Melotti; Antonia Mulas, Melina Mulas, and Archivio Ugo 
Mulas; and Annabianca Vedova and Archivio Vedova, Venice. 

We are also greatly indebted to a number of lenders who have been 
especially generous by sharing a large number of their works, and by 
personally contributing to the project by offering their time and 
knowledge in the planning stages: Alberto Bolaffi, Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Milan; Angelo Calmarini; Rosangela Cochrane; Agnese De 
Donato; Giorgio Franchetti; Gian Tomaso Liverani; Ferruccio 
Malandrini; Carla Panicali; Henk Peeters; Pier Luigi Pero and 
Valentina Pero; Marco Rivetti, Fondo Rivetti per 1'Arte, Turin; Fabio 
Sargentini; Gilbert and Lila Silverman; Ileana Sonnabend; and 
Jacqueline Vodoz and Bruno Danese. 

We also thank those who have graciously supported this exhibition 
by providing resources as well as lending numerous works from their 
collections. We are most grateful to Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A., 
Florence, and the Ferragamo family for their valuable contribution to 
this exhibition. A special thanks goes to Stefania Ricci and Marie- 
Helene Cadario of Ferragamo for their kind collaboration in realizing 
these loans. The generosity of Venini S.p.A., Murano, through the 
offices of Eleonora Gardini, is also greatly appreciated. The efforts oi 
Roberto Gasparotto of Venini were essential. We are indebted to 
Tecno S.p.A. for the generous gift to the museum of Tlinket chairs 
designed by Gae Aulenti for the media room. 

A special acknowledgment goes to those individuals who have 
provided crucial assistance in obtaining loans and other support: 
Dario Bellezza; Margaret Bodde, Cappa Productions, New York; 
Roberta Boschi Belgin, Murray and Isabella Rayburn Foundation, 
Inc., New York; Dilys Blum, Philadelphia Museum ot Art; Nficla 
Capnolo; James Cuno, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art 
Museums, Cambridge; Bettina Della Casa, Galleria Christian Stem, 
Turin-Milan; Daniela De Marco; Flavia Destefanis, Vignelli 
Associates, New York, and C&C multimedia. New York; Valeria 
Ernesti, Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan; Aurora Fiorentini; Armando 
Giuffrida; Graziella Folchini Grassetto: Barbara Jakobsen; Roberta 
Landini; John R. Lane, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Anna 
Lumine, Archivio Vedova, Venice; Patricia Mcars. the Brooklyn 
Museum; Laura Mire; Maunzio Momo; Anna Pazzagli, Pitti Immagme. 
Florence; Deborah Sampson Shinn, Cooper-] lewitt Museum, 
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Design, New York; 
Dino Trappetti; and Sally Wiggins. Knoedler >s Company, New York 

Twenty-five years oi Italian historj and < ulture is examined in 
Italian Metamorphosis and documented in tins . atalogui We are 
grateful, once- again, to the i onsulting < urators, all oi whom hav< 
contributed texts to the book, therein mapping their fields and 
providing welcome- routes through frequently unfamiliar terrain 
Thanks also go to the additional essayists who lent their scholarly 
skills to this proje< t. namely: Jennifer Blessing. Anna ( ostantini, 
Teresa de Laurens, Dennis Doordan, ( riorgio ( ialli, Mi< at la Marti 
Luini, Lisa Pan/era, Penny Sparke, Valerie .Steele-, and Mar. 1.1 V( troce]. 
A special note of gratitude goes to Umberto E< o, \\ ho took valuable 
time from his hectic schedule in order to share his reiollee tions of 
the period. 

This catalogue would not be what it is without the talented 
intervention of Massimo Vignelli, who designed it. Although Vignelli 
has been involved in many other graphic -design projei ts tor the 
museum, this undertaking has received extraordinary attention and 
support from him, which is greatly appret iated. 

Other scholars who have generously provided information and 
advice at crucial moments include Rosemarie Haag Bletter, Melissa 
Harris, Christopher Phillips, and Abigail Solomon-Godeau 

We are grateful for the assistance of the following individuals who 
were especially helpful in locating valuable photographs tor the 
catalogue and exhibition documentation: Mary Corliss, the Museum of 
Modern Art, New York; Virginia Dortch; Mar\ 1 ngel; Milton Gendel; 
Maria Vittoria Lodovichi, Corporate Identity Olivetti, Milan. 
Francesco Masi; Pasquale Ribuffo, Galleria de' Foscheran. Bologna. 
Pier Marco de Santi; and Antonella Soldaini and Judith Blackall, 
Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato. 

The Italian Metamorphosis is one of the largest and most complex 
exhibitions ever mounted at this museum. Like- Tht Great I topic 
Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915 1932, it includes mam ob]ects 
outside the traditional purview ot the institution, and it fills virtually 
the entire Frank Lloyd Wright building and the Gwathmey Siege! 
addition. The breadth and proportion of this project have presented 
special challenges for our staff members, who have responded, as 
always, with tremendous professionalism and good 1 heer, overcoming 
every obstacle with unflagging determination. 

Very special thanks go to Maryann Jordan. Director ot External 
Affairs, and her staff, who have worked tirelessly to develop and 
maintain the material support tor this project. She- has exercised 
supreme grace and diplomatic skill in her efforts. We thank Catherine 
Vare, Director of Communications, tor the- considerable burdens she 
has assumed in relation to this exhibition, all ot which have been met 
with great tact and proficiency. Linda Curing. Director ot Special 
Events, has skillfully coordinated tin complic ated logistic S or sir h an 
extraordinarily large project. Administrative Assistant Alessandra 
Varisco has gracefully smoothed communications between our various 
Italian colleagues and internal departments 

Judith Cox, General Counsel, has dcttU managed mam sensitive 
negotiations, the successful out< ome ot whi< h was essential to the 
project. Lisa Dennison, Curator oi Collections and Exhibitions, and 
Gail Harnty, Deputy Director tor Finance and Administration, have 
lent their support at important junt tions We are sincerely grateful to 
Amy Husten, Manager ol Budget and Planning, who has abb resolved 
myriad financial matters with intelligence .\nd goodwill Accounts 
Payable Analyst Manic en Ahearn has been extremely helpful on mam 

occasions. , 

We arc- profoundly grateful tor the- w ide-ranging expe ruse mk\ 
resourcefulness ot Panic la I. Myt rs, Administrator fbi I xhibitions and 
Programming, w ho has dire< t< d a team comprised oi dedi< at 
and consultants and overseen the mam c rue ial aspec ts ot the 
exhibition's installation Sht has orchestrated a trul) successful 
collaborative < (fort with vision and ingenuity The work ol Vittoria 
Massa, Architect in thi offict ofGai Aulenti, has been extremely 
important lor the- development and realization <>t this proje< t. and 
accordingly, greatly appreciated Mam thanks .ire du< • I na 

Buzzi, who de signed tht fashion s t < tion ol the exhibition in R 
and then installed it so successfully in New York R 
Manageroi Fabricatioi S with his staff and I 

( onsultant Ramon ( nls.m/. has om e again applied his man) 
and considerable know led strut tion to soh ii 

problems posed bj the Frank Lloyd W right building 

IX 7/ '.,. k 

Manager of Graphic Design Services, and Michelle Martino, Project 
Graphic Designer, skillfully handled all printed and environmental 
graphics. Martino's skills were also integral to the realization of the 
catalogue. David Heald, Manager of Photographic Services, met the 
project's extensive photographic needs. Lighting Technicians Adrienne 
Shulman and Wendy Cooney used all of the tools at their disposal to 
light the many objects to their best advantage. Walter Christie, 
Electrician; Michael Lavin, Senior Electronic Technician; and David 
Goodman, Network Systems Manager, helped solve many specific 
technical issues. We also thank Kelly Parr, Project Assistant, and 
Jocelyn Groom, Museum Technician. 

Scott Wixon, Manager of Installation and Collection Services; 
Anibal Gonzalez-Rivera, Manager of Collection Services; Joseph 
Adams, Senior Museum Technician; and David Veater, Senior Museum 
Technician, coordinated the installation. This group, along with 
Museum Technicians Lisette Baron-Adams, Peter Costa, James 
Cullinane, Bryn Jayes, William Smith, Dennis Vermeulen, and Guy 
Walker — the museum's talented art-handling and installation 
team — deserve the utmost praise for their expert, thorough, and 
efficient execution of the exhibition installation. 

We are extremely fortunate to have had Marion Kahan as Project 
Registrar for The Italian Metamorphosis. It is impossible to imagine 
that this show's daunting number of loans could have been 
coordinated without her extraordinary professionalism and grace 
under pressure. We also thank Kathleen Hill, who has joined us at a 
crucial moment to assume some of the vast registrarial duties. Lynne 
Addison, Associate Registrar, has provided welcome support. 
Associate Conservator Carol Stringari has given assiduous attention 
and care to the exhibition's artworks and objects. 

The catalogue, edited and produced by the Guggenheim's 
Publications Department, could not have been published without the 
great skill and commitment demonstrated by Anthony Calnek, 
Director of Publications; Elizabeth Levy, Production Editor; Edward 
Weisberger, Assistant Managing Editor; Laura Morris, Associate 
Editor; and Jennifer Knox, Assistant Editor. Additionally, Morris 
edited the complex array of didactic materials accompanying the 
exhibition, and Knox handled many difficult editorial tasks associated 
with the English version of the CD-ROM. 

The chief burden of this project has fallen upon the curatorial 
team that has worked with Germano Celant to organize this 
exhibition and prepare its accompanying catalogue. We express our 
sincere gratitude to Jennifer Blessing, Assistant Curator, who has 
played a key role in the conceptualization and realization of the 
catalogue, as well as in coordinating all aspects of the exhibition in 
her role as project manager. She has led a team of Project Curatorial 
Assistants, each of whom has made invaluable (and innumerable) 
contributions to the success of The Italian Metamorphosis. Focusing on 
the hundreds of objects in the Art section, Vivien Greene has acted 
with diligence and sagacity to resolve myriad art-historical and 
technical questions. We are grateful for Lisa Panzera's tireless efforts to 
fulfill her complex curatorial responsibilities pertaining to the show's 
Architecture, Design, and Photography sections. Carole Perry has 
swiftly and professionally mastered a wide-range of material unique to 
this exhibition for the Artists' Crafts, Cinema, and Fashion sections. 
All of the members of this finely tuned curatorial squad deserve our 
deepest thanks for their intelligence, professional commitment, and 
sheer hard work. 

A crucial role has been played by our Italian associates who have 
organized various aspects of the show from Italy. We owe a debt of 
gratitude to Marco Mulazzani, who has worked with the Architecture, 
Cinema, Design, and Photography curators to secure important loans 
and obtain valuable catalogue material. Anna Costantini has ably 
juggled a wide range of logistic issues and has conducted significant 
research; her work is sincerely appreciated. 

We also gratefully acknowledge our colleagues at the Peggy 
Guggenheim Collection, Venice, led by Deputy Director Philip 
Rylands, who have made many and diverse contributions to this 
project. Annarita Fuso, Public Affairs Assistant, has conscientiously 
managed press relations in Italy. Renata Rossani, Administrator, has 
frequently fielded and resolved numerous exhibition-related matters. 

We would also like to thank all of the people who have so amiably 
helped us to organize programming related to the exhibition: at 
Cinecitta International, Rome, Franco Lucchesi; at Film Foundation, 

x Acknowledgments 

New York, Raffaele Donato; at the Film Society at Lincoln Center, 
New York, Richard Pena and Wendy Keyes; at the Italian Cultural 
Institute, New York, Furio Colombo and Amelia Antonucci; at New 
Italian Cinema Events, New York, Viviana del Bianco and Sissy 
Semprini; at Pace Wildenstein Gallery, New York, Marc Glimcher and 
Mark Pollard; at the Public Theater, New York, Fabiano Canosa; and 
especially Martin Scorsese. 

The J tdl hi n Metamorphosis showcases the creative production of an 
entire country during an important reconstruction phase alter a 
painful period in its history. The exhibition's national significance 
for Italy has left us the happy recipient of a tremendous amount 
of support from Italian public and private institutions. Italy's 
recent engulfment in another difficult period of regeneration has 
created unique organizational challenges for us, yet has led to the 
potent collaboration of diverse groups, which united to sustain this 

This exhibition would not be possible without the significant 
sponsorship of Moda Made in Italy, a program of the Italian Institute 
for Foreign Trade (Italian Trade Commission), under the auspices of 
the Italian Ministry for Foreign Trade. The enduring enthusiasm and 
creative interest on the part of all those associated with the Italian 
Trade Commission have enriched this project enormously. 

We are especially indebted to the Centro di Firenze per la Moda 
Italiana, whose long-standing devotion to the exhibition has bolstered 
its progress and aided its final realization. 

We also extend our gratitude to TELECOM ITALIA for their 
generous participation, which came at a pivotal moment in the 
project's development. 

Significant support and assistance were provided by the Murray 
and Isabella Rayburn Foundation, Inc. We express our sincere thanks 
to Isabella Rayburn fot her initial commitment, when the project was 
only a nascent idea. 

We are also grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts, a 
Federal agency, for its patronage of the exhibition in its planning 

We thank the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their 
continuing cooperation and support, and extend particular 
appreciation to Italy's Ambassador to the United States, Boris 
Biancheri, whose wise counsel, superb intellect, and humanistic 
perspective provided much-needed practical advice as well as spiritual 

The exhibition catalogue — in its traditional printed version as well 
as CD-ROM format — has been published by ENEL and the Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum. We applaud ENEL's farsighted efforts in 
applying their innovative technology and communication skills to art, 
which will enhance our audience's experience of the exhibition. 

We also extend special thanks to Alfredo de Marzio, Chairman and 
C.E.O. of C&C multimedia, who has helped us initiate and foster 
many crucial contacts as well as navigate the sometimes turbulent, 
but always exhilarating, cross-cultural seas between our two nations. 

Finally, we salute the extraordinary individuals who serve as 
honorary patrons of the exhibition and who have provided critical 
guidance and ongoing support to the museum generally as well as 
to this project specifically: His Excellency Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 
President of the Republic of Italy; His Excellency Silvio Berlusconi, 
President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Italy; His 
Excellency Antonio Martino, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the 
Republic of Italy; His Excellency Domenico Fisichella, Minister of 
Cultural Affairs of the Republic of Italy; His Excellency Giorgio 
Bernini, Minister of Foreign Trade of the Republic of Italy; His 
Excellency Boris Biancheri, the Ambassador of the Republic oi 
Italy to the United States; The Honorable Reginald Bartholomew, 
the Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Italy; 
His Excellency Francesco Paolo Fulci, Representative ol the 
Republic of Italy to the United Nations; The Honorable Franco 
Mistretta, Consul General of the Republic of Italy; The Honorable 
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mayor of the City of New York; Dr. I fgo 
Calzoni, Chairman and C.E.O. of the Italian Institute lor foreign 
Trade (Italian Trade Commission); Dr. Franco Viezzoli, Chairman 
of ENEL; Ing. Vittono Rimbotti, Chairman of the Centro di 
Firenze per la Moda Italiana; Dr. Umberto Silvestri, ( hair man of 

Umberto Eco once wrote; 

An Italian character doei exist. Tht first is a transhistorical characteristit 
which relates to genialita (ingenuity) and inventivita {inventiveness) . . . 
and consists in our ability to marry humanist tradition and teal 

development. What has undoubtedly actedas a braki on our culture, tht 
predominanct <>/ the humanistit over tht technological, has also permitted 
certain fusions, eruptions of fantasy within technology and tht 
technologization of fantasy. Secondly, Italy isacountry that has known 
enormous crises, foreign domination, massacres. Andyet (orforthis reason) 
has produced Raphael and Michelangelo. . . . What often fascinates 
foreigners is that in Italy economit crises, uneven development, terrorii 
accompany great inventiveness. 

In conclusion, we express our gratitude to —or rather our 
thankfulness for — the many c reative people whose work is exhibited 
in The Italian Metamorphosis. Without the great genialita and 
inventivita of all the architects, artists, designers, direi tors, and 

photographers — modern-day Raphaels and Michelangelos we truly 
would have no show at all. 

xi Thomas Krens 

You Must Remember 
This • . • 

Umberto Eco 

Reading over the plans for the exhibition The Italian 
Metamorphosis, 1943- 1968, I feel as if I am scanning a 
familiar landscape that in some way belongs to me. In the 
pages that follow this preface, others will speak of the 
works and the history of the various trends and 
movements. I, however, will use this exhibition as a 
pretext for talking about my own personal history, from 
when I was eleven years old to when I was thirty-six. But 
this is not an act of narcissism; on the contrary, my 
personal memories enable me to bear witness to an entire 

In July 1943 I was eleven and a half years old. At that 
age one never plays a leading role in anything, but one can 
be a good spectator. Events, images, words, and readings 
leave impressions deep enough in the mind to remain vivid 
even fifty years later. I only knew about Fascism what 
Fascism had taught me. I had absorbed examples of Fascist 
art from schoolbooks or from the frescoes in pseudo- 
Roman style that adorned the structures of local Fascist 
party branches and other public places. This architecture 
was monumental, as if every such building was supposed 
to be a coliseum: enormous, out of scale, with very broad 
arches under which children (like me) of the Fascist Youth 
would march singing, dressed in black shirts with blue 
scarves fastened in front by round clasps with the face of 
Benito Mussolini on them, and equipped with phony 
leather Balilla "musketeer" gloves and muskets. 

This, we were taught, was Italian architecture. And yet 
in my home town of Alessandria (in the northwest part of 
the peninsula), two astonishing constructions appeared: 
one was Ignazio Gardella's antituberculosis dispensary, the 
other the postal building, upon which ran, along the entire 
lower section of its facade, a horizontal band of odd mosaics 
that had very little to do with Fascist iconography. As I 
later found out, they were by Gino Severini. That was my 
first contact with Modern art. It troubled me; I sensed that 
it was different from the official art of Fascism, but I wasn't 
yet ready to understand it. 

This episode is interesting because it tells us that 
Fascism allowed, alongside its own official architecture and 
painting, an avant-garde art to live and prosper, an art that 
included some of the first experiments of architectural 
Rationalism. It wasn't a sign of democratic openness, 
however, but an example of ideological confusion: the 
ideology of Italian Fascism was not monolithic, 
homogeneous, and paranoid like that of Nazism or 
Stalinism. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had a 
metaphysics and a logic. Mussolini had only a rhetoric. As 
for his men, they did not even have that; except for one 
minister, Giuseppe Bottai, they were all uncultured and 
therefore were unable to think that culture might be 
dangerous, unless it spoke explicitly against the regime. 
Thus they left the alternative culture in peace, not because 
they had anything in common with it, but because it 
seemed too much trouble to repress it, and because most of 
the time they didn't even realize it existed. 

What did I know of the rest of the contemporary world? 
I knew America through comic strips and films (which 
were allowed into Italy until 1942), and England through 
the news and commentaries of Radio London, the 
clandestine program that the English broadcast over the 
entire Italian territory during the war, and that we used to 


listen to in the evening, at low volume, with windows 
closed, savoring the thrill of committing a crime and of 
listening to forbidden words. 

But let's go back to July 26, 1943. On that day we heard 
on the radio that the king had "fired" Mussolini and that 
the new head of the government was Marshal Pietro 
Badoglio. At first nobody, least of all me, understood that 
this meant the regime had collapsed: the event seemed 
only like the fall of one man. But the very next day, when I 
was sent out to buy the newspaper, the newsstand had 
more newspapers than before. They looked the same as 
before, had the same kinds of typefaces, the same formats, 
but the headlines were different. And they each carried a 
bulletin celebrating the end of the dictatorship, signed 
variously by the Christian Democratic, Communist, 
Socialist, Liberal, and Action parties. 

That day I had my first news of the existence of 
democracy. I realized that a country could have many 
different parties, but that wasn't all: since these parties 
could not have been born overnight, it meant that they had 
been there before as well, that they had been living in 
secret (or abroad), and that they represented another Italy. 

Another two years would pass before I could see that 
other Italy, two terrible years that would last until April 25, 
1945, when I found out that Fascism had truly fallen, this 
time for good. Two days later I saw the first American 
soldiers. They were reading comic strips I had never seen 
before, with characters entirely unknown to me, like Lil' 
Abner and Dick Tracy. I was discovering modernity 
through Pop art nearly twenty years before the fact. 

Later, it was a slow conquest. We were not, however, 
deprived of foreign literature. Remember that, during the 
Fascist era, Elio Vittorini, with his anthology Americana, 
had brought the best of United States literature to the 
Italian public, and that a quasi-clandestine publisher like 
Rosa & Ballo was rediscovering the masterpieces of 
German Expressionism that the Nazis had condemned as 
"degenerate art." But it was, of course, after 1945 that we 
began to translate nearly everything and to discover 
previously unknown authors. And then to show us a 
different world, there was cinema: on the one hand, 
American films (I must confess that my own personal 
myth of the United States was formed by watching James 
Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and that my idea of 
freedom was reinforced by seeing Casablanca); and on the 
other, masterpieces of Italian neorealism, from Roberto 
Rossellini to Luchino Visconti. 

As for the fine arts, I lived in a provincial town, where 
there weren't any art exhibits. Every week I used to buy one 
of the two copies available of a review called La fiera 
letteraria (Literary bazaar). Reading its articles, I learned of 
the existence of such poets as T S. Eliot and Paul Eluard; 
looking at its poor, faded black-and-white photos and 
drawings, I discovered that a contemporary art existed and 
that it had existed before and during the war. I tried to 
understand that new language; I was like someone who 
until then had seen only Raphael and suddenly found 
himself looking at Les Demoiselles d' Avignon, or like .111 
American who had seen only magazine covers by Norman 
Rockwell and suddenly was faced with a New Yorker cover 
by Saul Steinberg. 

My first epiphany, my first magical discovery, occurred 

during an exhibition at the Galleria Comunale, which 
featured a painting by Giorgio Mbrandi. I am sorry this 
great painter is not represented in the present show; to 
many he seems not contemporary enough. I do nor agree. 
In any case, after seeing so much painting in whi< li what 
mattered was the subject (heroic, celebratory, grandiose), I 
discovered, for the first time, a painting that painted itself, 
"painting for painting's sake." 

Then I became an adult. Many of the central figures ot 
this Italian metamorphosis were by then well-known to 
me; little by little, as I grew up, some of them became mj 
friends. I missed out, however, on a 
experience: the Milan "scene" in via Brera from 194s to 1954. 
When I arrived in Milan, the artists' quarter of via Brera 
(next to the accademia and galleria of the same name) still 
existed. For that matter, it still exists today. But in the- 
second half of the 1940s, it was a magical place, where I 
feel as though I myself have lived, so much a part of me arc- 
the legends I have heard about it. Brera was a Montmartre. 
a Montparnasse, a Greenwich Village, where things 
happened at an accelerated pace, because the lost years had 
to be made up and the new freedom,- the chance to attempt 
every adventure and every experience, enjoyed. 

I arrived in Brera after its heroic period, but many of its 
main figures were still there. Joe Colombo, Enrico Baj, and 
Sergio d'Angelo had decorated the Santa Tecla, a cellar after 
the fashion of the existentialist caves in Paris. Mysterious, 
beautiful women dressed in black hung around there, and 
the most important jazz ensembles of the time played 
there. In Brera I also met the masters of the previous 
generation, including Lucio Fontana, as well as the younger 
artists. Indeed, one day Piero Manzoni signed my wrist in 
indelible ink, as he did with certain friends to make them 
into works of art. The ink eventually faded, of course, even 
though for two weeks I didn't wash my right arm. But this 
is a problem for some future restorer; I remain a certified 
work of art by Manzoni, and I am happy he immortalized 
me that way instead of putting me inside one ot his famous 
little boxes. 

From 1954 to 1958 I also worked on the cultural programs 
of Televisione di Milano. It was a pioneering television 
station, very primitive but much more "cultured'' than 
present-day TV. I remember working with a now deceased 
critic, Franco Russoli, on afternoon programs on art and 
architecture, sometimes on the great avant-garde 
movements like Dada or Surrealism, other times invoh ing 
living artists. In the corridors ot Televisione di Milano, 
where I met Igor Stravinsky, Bertolt Brecht, and those who 
would become the great composers ot our age (Lu< iano 
Berio, Bruno Maderna, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre 
Boulez, Luigi Nono), passed the painters and architei is ol 
the day. We were young, enthusiast i< , and we had < reated a 
kind ot informal republic in which people working in 
different fields converged, finding a common ground. 

The 1960s were- unforgettable. There \\.h the economic 
boom; Italy had emerged from tin sufferings oi tin wars 
aftermath. Our contacts with the rest ol tin- world were 
growing rapidly. We belonged to the generation that had 
learned how to fly. The world was ours, thanks t" Alitalia, 
and we- thought that ( ulture- could e hange it ( rruppo I 
was born, bringing together poets, fiction writers, and 
essayists at first, and painters, sculptors, musicians, and 

Mil / 

architects soon after. Perhaps the most typical symbol of 
that mood was the 1964 Triennale in Milan. The Triennale is 
an exhibition held every three years (sometimes less 
frequently) featuring architecture and industrial and urban 
design. The 1964 show was devoted to the question of 
leisure time, an important subject for a civilization in 
which television was now dominant and the automobile 
boom had produced the tourist boom, but in which, 
simultaneously, people were reading the authors of the 
Frankfurt School — Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, 
Walter Benjamin — or else rereading Antonio Gramsci's 
analysis of popular culture. One wondered whether that 
nascent societe du spectacle would inspire a freer way of life, 
rich in original experiences, or create a new kind of 
conformism. For the 1964 Triennale the decision was made 
to debate these questions not in written essays but rather 
in a spectacle that today would be called multimedia, laid 
out in such a way as to allow multiple choices, 
anticipating, in a real format, what now would be called a 
hypertext, a virtual labyrinth. 

I was the playwright for this discourse space. But I 
didn't actually write a conceptual outline or script for the 
artists to execute. Rather, we spent nights discussing 
things together; ideas were provoked by visual offerings; 
the visual offerings were determined according to the 
spaces; the spaces were delineated on the basis of sound 
suggestions given by the musicians ... I don't remember 
everyone who took part in this adventure, but the general 
plan was by Vittorio Gregotti, together with Ludovico 
Meneghetti and Giotto Stoppino; Gae Aulenti conceived a 
joyously dazzling space; the two Vignellis invented a kind 
of introductory corridor full of images and afloat with 
sounds conceived by Berio and the voice of Cathy 
Berberian. Philosophical or historical questions were 
confronted in unlikely spaces (pyramids, underground 
passages, halls of mirrors, trompe-l'oeil stairways) created 
by painters and sculptors (too many to record their names 
here, though many are in the present show). The 1964 
Triennale was a spectacular example of a form of cultural 
criticism to which all the arts contributed: poets thought 
like painters, sculptors saw with the eyes of novelists, 
sociologists spoke the language of images, artists thought 
with their hands. 

A thousand meetings, discussions, and battles come 
back to me now as I see the names of so many friends in 
this exhibition: Enrico Castellani, Piero Dorazio, Mario 
Schifano, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mimmo Rotella, and so 
many others. And not just the meetings of Gruppo 63, but 
the birth of reviews like Marcatre (Markthree) — founded 
by a great friend of mine now deceased, Eugenio Battisti — 
which brought together a group of young artists and critics 
from Genoa, among whom, I believe, I first met Germano 
Celant. Then there were the special issues of the review // 
Verri on Informale and Action Painting, and on the birth of 
Arte Povera; the debates of the "neo-avant-garde" against 
Renato Guttuso, who was accused of making figurative art, 
although he was well aware of — if polemical to — new 
trends; the days and nights spent laying out the pages of 
books with Bruno Munari, that genius of the ephemeral, or 
devising children's books, conceived by Eugenio Carmi, 
against the atomic bomb and racism; the Italian Pavilion at 
Expo '67 at Montreal, which also had a didactic, 

theoretical-historical-visual layout, which I worked on 
with Leonardo Ricci, Carlo Scarpa, and an ebullient (as 
always) Emilio Vedova. Not to mention the battles waged 
in support of the provocative new film language of 
Michelangelo Antonioni (I was a character in La notte [The 
Night, 1961] for a few brief seconds, in a rapid transition 
shot), or the use of the films of Francesco Rosi as occasions 
for political debate. And then, out of the passionate (and 
not always friendly) debates with Pier Paolo Pasolini was 
born the new semiology of cinema. 

To repeat: the 1960s were extraordinary, for we 
thought that a revolution of the languages of art could 
transform the world. And this conviction brought down 
the boundaries between the genres, between word, 
image, object. Ugo Mulas created "metapainting" by 
photographing painters in action, helping us to understand 
them better. 

Then came 1968, marking the beginning of a new, 
different period. No longer was it art that wanted to make 
itself into revolution; it was the revolution that wanted to 
make itself into art. Indeed I believe that if one is to pass a 
rapid (and inevitably partial) judgment on the significance 
of 1968, taking the good with the bad, it must be said that 
its original sin was its revolutionary aestheticism, its desire 
to transform politics into a total act that was supposed to 
include action and reflection, art and philosophy, everyday 
life and Utopia. It was here that different fronts formed, 
with many artists seeking to live this experience to the full 
and others carrying on their pursuit in a more secluded 
manner. It should also be remembered that there were 
some who played with 1968, seeking to exploit it as a 
fashion to adapt themselves to. 

At the time, I was teaching in the Department of 
Architecture at the University of Florence. I remember that 
the Archizoom group had already appeared even before the 
start of the events of 1968, while the UFO group emerged 
during the occupation of the university. In Milan, Munari 
was planning itinerant protest exhibitions — against 
nuclear politics, for example — which could be contained in 
a very few boxes, mounted in ten minutes, and quickly 
taken down when the police arrived. Architecture 
departments became the arena in which everything was 
debated, because the architect felt responsible for society as 
a whole. The elderly (I, at thirty-six, already belonged to 
the prior generation, with the septuagenarians) tried to 
understand the new world, the new ethics, the new 
customs, the new aesthetics of the young. There might have 
been — and there were — moments of (mutual) rejection, 
but there was never any lack of debate or confrontation. 

Nineteen sixty-eight, in other countries, lasted one year 
or a little more (in the United States it began in 1967). In 
Italy it lasted ten years. Too long, for the moment of 
enthusiasm, of Utopia, became tainted. The liquidation of 
1968 came about in four different ways. First of all, the 
society absorbed some of the demands of 1968 by 
neutralizing them, reducing them to convention. Then, 
some people, in disappointment, became loyal servants of 
the system they had wanted to destroy ("if you can't beat 
'em, join 'em"). What today we call telecrazia 
("televisionocracy"), the societe du spectacle that in Italy has 
become a force of government, is the handiwork of, among 
others, many of 1968's "repentants" (were they converts or 



apostates? — it depends on your point of view). In addition, 
1968 as a student force (and in some cases also as a workers' 
force) turned into the protest of marginalized groups. 
Lacking a strong ideology such as the Marxism that had 
dominated 1968, these groups revived in an innocent, 
"primitive" manner some of the models or the historic 
avant-gardes and the neo-avant-garde of the 1960s. 
However, in my opinion, there was no new creativity, just a 
new aestheticization of everyday life, this time under the 
banner of the Ugly (a kind of pre-Grunge). Finally, others 
drifted into terrorism. Terrorism was the expression of 
politics and a military strategy (both bankrupt), clearly a 
desperate form of ethics and by no means aesthetic. 

It is therefore fitting, perhaps, that this exhibition 
should end with 1968. That year concludes a span of time 
in Italian art that runs from the anti-Fascist Resistance to 
the Utopia of a cultural revolution. Afterward, as Rudyard 
Kipling would have said, it's another story. 

One final memory. Perhaps Federico Fellini himself 
anticipated the end of the story of 1968 with his film Prova 
d'orchestra {Orchestra Rehearsal, 1979) and announced the 
beginning of the next story with Ginger e Fred (Ginger and 
Fred, 1985). 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

XV I / 1 

Reasons for a 

Germano Celant 

Dissolution or Dissolve? 

After twenty years of euphoria the art system today is 
fraught with malaise and insecurity. Ever since it agreed 
that monetary considerations were as important as its own 
ideal standards and assumptions, there has been a 
lessening of art's importance and its critical role, a 
reduction of its otherness and its reasons for being. Art now 
stands in danger of becoming a metahistorical entity, 
isolated and separated from the world, with no consensus 
or social recognition aside from that of its adepts. 

The risk is enormous: no matter how many people 
consider art an elitist value to uphold against society's lack 
of commitment, the loss of political significance seems to 
be balanced only by a mass consumption of art, which 
renders art merely decorative. This corrodes the roots of its 
ideality and its ethical and critical role, turning it into a 
fetish, an object of obscurely perceptible reality. It also 
muddies art's representative, Utopian structure, and 
encourages its enemies to gloat over its ineptitude and 

Similar problems of mutation seem to render obsolete 
the differences between pure research and applied research 
that used to distinguish artistic value from use value. 
Today the positions are merging. Art, defined by its 
otherness and its refusal to be a communicational 
profession, has undergone a process of adaptation to 
consumer products. It has let itself be dragged into a 
market that has reduced it to a luxury commodity and thus 
become more and more identified with the useful and 
functional. These aspects, until the 1950s, were considered 
extraneous and secondary to its existence, because 
"autonomous art contained within itself at least one claim 
to heteronomy, that of presenting itself as a total 
alternative to the world of economics." 1 

The collapse of the ideal and the inauguration of 
functionality imply an impending equivalence between 
metaphysical and instrumental value. The positions 
mediate each other and counterpose a suppression of their 
limits and differences: art becomes an aestheticizing mode 
of showing and making, with no meaning other than that 
inferred by the consumer. Similar conditions seem to be 
leading artistic activity toward a horizon delineated by 
scepticism and nihilism, by the dissolution of roles and 
effects, with a resulting loss of identity that makes the 
products and images merge. The leap toward dissolution is 
accompanied by an alienation favorable to a purely 
"functional" role, like that of design, architecture, fashion, 
graphic art, and advertising. 

For those who maintain that art is a pure idea based in 
radical subjectivity, however, this transition to a state of 
linguistic precariousness can be defined as a dissolution and 
therefore a total breakdown. For others interested in 
maintaining the need for a connection and an affinity 
between art and communication, on the other hand, it can 
be defined as a dissolve, a slow transferral that accepts 
coexistence with opposites, and transcends the conflict by 
integrating them. The dissolve is not the triumph of one 
language over another, since the traditional oppositions 
have been suppressed. Instead it is the advent of a new 
aesthetic code involving an interpenetration of the various 
forms of knowledge and artistic pursuit. Art does not place 
itself above everything; it declares itself party to a cultural 

xvi Introduction 

and social totality based on mixing and juxtaposition, 
dialogue and transformation. Such metamorphosis 
obviously throws open another space, one that hinges on 
the concept of a widespread aestheticism and on the 
synthesis and osmosis of languages. 

If this is true, what becomes of the museum? What 
norms define its offerings and its interpretations of the 
artistic past and present? If art's identity is suspended 
between other identities, is it necessary to find a meaning 
for it within the sphere of a generalized aesthetics so as not 
to obscure its links, implications, and consequences with 
and for other languages? I believe the museum must 
abandon its monotheism and the theology of art if it is to 
represent its links with other archipelagoes of 
communication and production. The plan is to arrive at a 
critical point of view that accepts different forms of 
exposition, analysis, and historicizing of the visual 
language as a dynamic energy and a transgressive 
movement among the arts. 2 The spilling over, or at very 
least the mutual involvement, of all the visual practices is 
essential to an understanding of a historical period, 
especially if it becomes symbolic of a change or 
transformation of the culture or society as a whole. 

The treatment of a cultural epoch should not admit any 
disciplinary limits. It is the history of images and ideas, 
projects and customs, objects and documents, and for this 
reason it is obliged to include every aesthetic language: 
architecture, art, comics, cinema, design, fashion, 
literature, photography, theater, artists' crafts. Such an 
ambitious approach is rarely attempted, however, because 
the preference is to maintain a theology of art that defends 
art as an absolute, unique religion.' In the monotheistic, 
idealizing intentions of its historians, this religion is not 
supposed to betray any dialectical relationship with the 
other languages of communication. 

Nevertheless this defense of the sanctity of art can be 
relaxed when the subject ceases to be the most recent 
contemporary period and instead concerns the past, 
because in this case there is no danger that the analysis of 
the relations between art and culture will lead to the 
dissolution of their mutual boundaries. If it is possible, 
however, to do this for historical events, why not adopt it 
for our own present, so as to verify the flow and shift, as 
well as the proximity and distance, between all the arts in 
one period? And more important, to highlight the 
antihistorical schism between art and the arts, as well as 
the slow dissolution of art's hold on the real, in fa^or of a 
theoretical and interpretative dialogue with parallel 
linguistic forms? These questions arose again when I began 
to curate The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943- 1968. The answer 
immediately pointed toward a project of intermingling the 
various languages, or at least of having them run parallel. 
This choice was not only linked to a museological approach 
already present in The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet 
Avant-Garde, 1915—1932, held at the Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, from September 25, 1992 through 
January 3, 1993, and to my own critical position; it was also 
dictated by an identification of the philosophical and 
artistic characteristics of Italian culture, as well as by a 
consideration of the historical precedents of the period 

On the one hand there is the eclecticism typical of 

Italian thought in the multiplicity of grafts, juxtapositions, 
minglings, combinations, stratifications, and tangles of 
cultures, both ancient and modern, that have coursed 
through Italy over the centuries. On the other hand there is 
the determining stroke of Futurism, with its break with all 
unity and its search for confusion and simultaneity, 
dynamism and transition, through every artistic language. 
In Italy this marks the end of the metaphysical value of art 
in favor of a Babel of the arts. 

Against Prettiness 

The determining feature of any dialectic among the arts is 
the movement that makes possible a passage, through 
subsequent fusion or mimetic contagion, from one polarity 
to another. In Futurism the languages are subject to an 
energetic process that cannot be contained in a single 
model of representation. Heterogeneity and overlapping, 
with their work of correlation, multiplication, and 
irradiation, are the general assumptions on which the 
originality of Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo 
Gafra, and Gino Severini is based. Their discovery of an 
aesthetic concept of linguistic and spatial simultaneity, 
wherein figures and images move without regard to the 
opacity and geography of the surrounding materials and 
conditions, leads to a vertigo of forms that become fused 
and confused with one another in a kind of unique 
present — as in Boccioni's series of multimaterial 
sculptures, which includes Testa+casa+li/a 
(Head+ House+ Light, 1911 — 12) and Antigrazioso {Antipretty, 
1912— 13). Here the interweaving of real details and 
mental components highlights the intermingling of the 
flows of reality. Futurism moves inexorably toward an 
indistinctiness of forms and volumes, whereas painting . 
and sculpture become nomadic, moving around the 
intersection of languages, occupying times and spaces of 
real and virtual mobility, in order to create "dissolves" that 
upset limits and throw them into crisis for the purpose of 
exalting the trajectories. 

I had thought, as a homage to Futurism, of entitling this 
exhibition of Italian art Antigrazioso, because we are 
indebted to that historic avant-garde for the quantum leap 
that undermined the monolithic or reduced dimensions of 
painting and sculpture in order to include the ambient 
contrasts of furnishings and architecture, cinematograpln 
and typography, theater and dance, music and design. The 
position taken by the Futurists with respect to the world 
was the very contemporary one of an all-inclusive process 
forming a synthetic unity among the arts. 

The idea of adqpting a title like Antigrazioso tor an 
exhibition of the arts in Italy after World War II stemmed 
from a desire to underscore the polylinguistk role of a 
creativity that prefers an entire universe in whi< h ( ars, 
chairs, sculptures, films, clothing, paintings, photographs, 
and videos proliferate, and not to rclv on a single system ot 
objects. Within that universe one maj make distin< tions, 
but what really matters is the total effect. W 'hat matters in 
Italian creativity is the ideology ot the new .is related to tin- 
synthesis of the arts — an ideology that has abandoned the 
dimension ot elegance and prettiness in favor ot .1 < reative 
contagion that abolishes linguistic boundaries 
toward a global transformation, whi< li Balla and Fbrtunato 
Depero called the "Futurist reconstruction of theunivi 

xvii Gtrmano Celant 

The unavoidable reference to Futurism also finds 
confirmation in the fact that the central figures in Italian 
postwar art continually alluded to their roots in that 
movement. The foundations of Italian design, for example, 
rest on the experiments of Marcello Nizzoli, who in 1914 
exhibited with La Famiglia Artistica, a group with ties to 
the Futurists. In the same vein, postwar cinema, 
photography, graphic arts, and furniture design would be 
inconceivable without the prior work of Anton Giulio 
Bragaglia, Depero, Carlo Mollino, Bruno Munari, and 
Enrico Prampolini, all of whom were first- or second- 
generation Futurists. Furthermore all postwar Rationalist 
architecture, through Giuseppe Pagano and Edoardo 
Persico, harkens back to Antonio Sant'Elia. In addition, the 
generation of young artists who began to emerge after 1945 
would continually refer back to the language of the 
Futurist painters. Alberto Burri situated himself in the 
tradition of Prampolini in his combinations of materials; 
Piero Dorazio looked to Balla's iridescent, abstract 
interpenetrations in working on the energy of luminous 
chromaticism; Lucio Fontana drew inspiration from Filippo 
Tommaso Marinetti's notion of the incorporeal in regard to 
radio and cinema, and broadened his language to the point 
where, between 1949 and 1952, it moved from Concetti 
spaziali {Spatial Concepts) through fluorescent light 
environments to the Manifesto del movimento spaziale per la 
televisione (Manifesto of the spatial movement for 
television); and Emilio Vedova exploded the enigma of 
Boccioni's materials only to control it through a gestural 

There is one final reason for the indirect connection 
between Futurism and postwar visual culture. During 
these two periods — the first spanning the Futurist and 
Metaphysical adventures from 1909 to 1918, the second 
marked by the clash between realism and abstractionism, 
and between anarchism and social figurativism, from 1943 
to 1968 — the international systems of historical and critical 
interpretation abandoned themselves to a factual shift.' 

By identifying Futurism with Fascism and neorealism 
with Communism or Marxist culture, people have 
demonized all the linguistic experiences of the two 
movements. Their vision clouded by ideology, they have 
negated the seeds of a cultural renewal that taught art a 
process of contamination with the world. Concerning 
themselves only with sustaining a pure and ideal art 
beyond action and political militancy, public institutions 
from the museums to the media, from art historians to 
cultural ambassadors — in other words, from Life magazine 
to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from Clement 
Greenberg to Clare Boothe Luce — have demonstrated a 
total opposition to any art that identified itself with the 
absolute actuality of the political. And since the danger 
might come from either the Right or the Left, the task was 
to remove from history any artistic manifestation that 
might be identified with these extremes. And since in Italy 
art as well as architecture, film as well as design, lived 
through this damnation of politics (without, however, 
accepting it, except in the more obtuse moments), the 
principal formal and linguistic contributions in these 
media must be grasped outside these now dated 
oppositions. The dogged hostility long felt toward the past 
periods of twentieth-century Italian art is now in decline, 

xviii Introduction 

yet it has weighed heavily upon the information and 
recognition of their fundamental role in the history of 

The new acceptance has led to The Italian 
Metamorphosis. 1P43-1968, which attempts to present the 
broad range of Italian aesthetics in light of the fall of the 
Fascist regime and the end of the tragic war. The collapse 
of that regime, the military defeat, and the Resistance 
swept away nationalistic-rhetorical models of culture in 
favor of an open, liberal national identity. Intellectuals 
embarked on a search for the modern that had developed 
in democratic countries, and a true rebirth of the arts was 
triggered. The surprising ubiquity of an aestheticization 
spanning all the linguistic terrains from art to cinema, 
literature to architecture, produced a cultural 
metamorphosis whose beginning can be dated to 1943, with 
the arrival of the Allies in Italy, the toppling of the Fascist 
regime, the subsequent fall of Benito Mussolini, and the 
birth of the first strikes and political resistance activities. 
This date is preferable to the traditionally accepted 1945, 
when the country was definitively liberated, precisely 
because it indicates a dramatic but gradual transition from 
1941 to 1945, which already saw the affirmation of a different 
and dissident culture: Renato Guttuso's Crocifissione 
(Crucifixion, 1941, cat. no. 15), Carlo Levi's Cristo si efermato 
a Eboli (Christ stopped at Eboli, 1945), Luchino Visconti's 
Ossessione (Obsession, 1942, cat. no. 472), Elio Vittorini's 
Americana (1942, cat. no. 330). These works managed to 
announce a culture that would privilege the facts of 
democratic reality over the simulacra of dictatorial, 
nationalistic myth. 

Starting in 1943, a leftist cultural line, spurred by the 
hope for imminent liberation from Nazism, began to take 
shape. It aimed at developing a coherent religion of 
freedom, a cross between Catholic idealism and Marxist 
dogmatism. The dialectic between these two poles 
supported and upheld the dialogue between abstraction 
and the real, the whole upon which the arts came to renew 
themselves. The artistic productions that sprang from the 
clash of these extremes gave way to a new renaissance, the 
high points of which include the BBPR group's monument 
to the fallen in German concentration camps (1946, cat. no. 
605), Piero Bottoni's QT8 quarter, Corradino D'Ascanio's 
Vespa (Wasp) motorscooter (1946, cat. no. 735), Vittorio De 
Sica's Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle thieves, 1948, cat. no. 477), 
the Forma group's manifesto (1947), Cesare Pavese's // 
Compagno (The comrade), Gio Ponti's Superleggera 
(Superligbt) two-tone chair (1957, cat. no. 740), Vasco 
Pratolini's Cronache di poveri amanti (Chronicles of poor 
lovers), Roberto Rossellini's Roma citta aperta (Rome open 
city, 1945, cat. no. 473), Vittorini's Uomini no (Men or nor), 
as well as his review 11 politecnico (Polytechnic), and Bruno 
Zevi's Verso un architettura organica (Toward an organic 

The decade from 1945 to 1955 was marked by 
reconstruction and benefited from the Marshall Plan, 
whose financial assistance sustained an economic and social 
recovery accompanied by strongly pro-American 
propaganda in favor of conservative forces and against the 
forces of the Left. The offensive created two fronts typical 
of a thriving period soon marked (as of 1947) by the Cold 
War, two fronts characterized by strong polarities: 

Catholicism versus Marxism, socialist realism versus 
abstractionism, neorealist cinema versus escapist cinema, 
popular architecture versus international architecture, 
idealism versus materialism, communism versus 
capitalism. It was a period of manifestos and populist 
declarations constrained by political formulas yet instilled 
with a strong civil passion for a culture of the people, a 
period of myths and dreams that nevertheless was soon 
swept away by the emergence of a third way, thanks to the 
very rapid industrial growth that enveloped Italian society 
around 1957/' 

In the span of one brief decade Italy was propelled by 
phenomenal growth, a genuine economic miracle, that 
modified its social and cultural characteristics. The scene- 
changed; atavistic habits bound to the land and to ancient 
rites were swept away by a consumerism made up of 
objects and images that altered the very root of thought 
and action. A new literature was born between "the 
apocalyptic and the integrated," for and against 
consumerism, and upon its clamorous existence — a 
mixture of vulgarity and social ascent — were founded the 
projects for a mass culture. 

Contributing greatly to Italy's success was the design 
sector, which represented a hope for rebuilding and 
renewal through the tools of industry, which was the true 
flywheel of the rebirth of a country in a stage of total 
transformation. Design had been a territory explored most 
deeply by architects coming out of the Rationalist school 
and the Bauhaus, and when it was used as a means of 
cultural and social change, it aimed at a democratic 
equalization of forms and languages. Productive and 
creative processes with a social end in view were put on the 
same level, and around 1957 an equalization of industrial 
design and art, of architecture and fashion, of cinema and 
photography, began to emerge. 8 

The decline of the dualisms led to a social integration 
that reduced all creativity to an aesthetic process within 
which phenomenal identities were developed that tended 
to seek their own forms, colors, volumes, techniques. The 
homogenization of phenomena brought with it the 
dissolution, or better yet the dissolving, of one language 
into another. Aesthetic attitudes were no longer 
distinguished by their ends, whether political or 
decorative, but rather by their direct or indirect way ot 
representing the social. The struggle moved onto the 
representation or the presentation ot the processes and 

In order to survive the indirect communication ot 
design, film, architecture, and advertisement, art chooses 
to direct communication and embrace materials and 
gestures in their raw state. It aims to redeem the person 
from the industrial system bj trusting in an irrational, 
uncontrolled mode ot operation. Art is the last bastion ot 
resistance against the globalization ot contemporary 
society. The psychological and emotional reactions 
conveyed on the canvas or in the- material are a 1 ritual 
declaration against the mechanization ot existence. 

Nevertheless the pnu ess ot conditioning and integration 
among the arts, and among the c lasses, brings * ith it a loss 
of the essential features ot tluir respe< tive historical 
identities. This process is destined never to end. The 

whirlwind ot models ot consumption gives rise to new 

\ix Cm rmano ( tlant 

subjects that aspire to transcend the distinction between 
art and life. Banal subjects, like comics or advertisements, 
manufactured products, garbage, iconic and optical effects, 
common and luxury commodities, from Pop art to Op art, 
become solemnized. The new heroes of show business are 
born and superficiality spreads wildly, contaminating any 
chance the arts might have for commitment and autonomy. 
The useless is turned into economics, the object is 
transferred and becomes a symbolic sign,' so as to create a 
demand and a purely imaginary urge for products. 

The advent of these habits and modes of behavior, which 
arose with the increase of consumption, led to the rapid 
cultural unification of Italy. A new nation was born based 
on the categories of modernity and consumption, which 
defined its ideology as a civil society. Once growth stopped 
and the industrial euphoria died down, however, the new 
expectations and behaviors betrayed the backwardness of 
their consumer origins. In 1968 the demand for a revision of 
values burst forth, involving both politics and customs. A 
strong protest among young elites was born in opposition 
to a sociocultural system that, having chosen consumerism 
as a way of life, had forgotten the sense of pleasure and 
freedom that can also run counter to the idea of opulence 
and economic power that sustains mass society. 

Choosing 1968 as the end of a phase in the history of the 
arts in Italy therefore means determining the closing date 
of a metamorphosis, only to begin another, from 1968 to 
today, which remains to be studied. This latter 
metamorphosis, marked by opposition to generational and 
economic authority, spearheads a critique and denunciation 
of the boundaries on which the control of pleasure and 
feeling is exercised. It gives rise to such attitudes as those 
of underground film, Arte Povera, radical architecture, and 
the living theater. 

The temporal geography of The Italian Metamorphosis, 
1943— 1968 falls within the transition between two 
thresholds, 1943 and 1968, each marked by a critical 
culture: the one arising from the anti-Fascist position 
against a rhetorical-nationalistic society that had led to the 
tragedy of a fratricidal war; the other informed by 
antiauthoritarianism and anticonsumerism against a mass 
society based on the hierarchy of money and opulence. 
These antitheses are at once the result and the matrix of an 
enjoyment of life that rejects the allure of death as well as 
power, a matrix that looks instead toward the affirmation 
of a cultural identity exalted in every manifestation of the 
aesthetic, from art to design, from architecture to 
photography, from opera to the theatre, from music to 
comics, from fashion to film, from graphic arts to 
literature. To the exclusion of no languages, toward a jam 
session of the arts. 

1. Mario Perniola, La societa dei simulacri (The society of simulacra. 
Bologna, 1980), p. 133. 

2. My own personal insistence on this critical approach dates back to 
1965, with my collaboration on the architectural review Casabella 
(House beautiful) and my monograph on the designer Marcello 
Nizzoli. It then addressed the confusion of techniques and languages 
of Arte Povera in 1967. In 1976 it found expression in the large 
historical exhibition on the relations between "Art & Environment, 
1900 — 1976" at the Venice Biennale, and continued over the years in my 
collaboration with Ingrid Sischy in Artforum (an effort, aimed at a 
fusion of the arts, that concluded with the "blasphemous" magazine 
cover devoted to fashion designer Issey Miyake). It finally exploded in 
the 1980s with a series of exhibitions I curated on the commingling of 
the arts, from Identite Italienne (Italian identity) at Centre Georges 
Pompidou, Paris, 1981, to European Iceberg at Art Gallery of Ontario, 
Toronto, 1985; from Futurismo & Futurismi (Futurism and futurisms, 
curated with Pontus Hulten) at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1986, to 
Memoria del Futuro (Memories of the future, curated with Ida Gianelli) 
at Reina Sofia, Madrid, 1990, and Creativitalia (Creativitaly, curated 
with Gaetano Pesce) in Tokyo, 1990. Accompanying all this are books 
on the major figures in contemporary art, design, architecture, 
photography, and the graphic arts, including monographs on A. G. 
Fronzoni, Frank O. Gehry, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ugo Mulas, Nizzoli, 
Pesce, and Leila and Massimo Vignelli. Finally there has been my 
organization of interaction among the arts, from // Corso del Coltello 
(The course of the knife), a collaboration in 1985 between Claes 
Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, and Gehry in Venice to Osmosis: 
Ettore Spalletti and Haim Steinbach, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York, 1993. 

3. The greatest push toward an anthropological dimension of art has 
come from Pontus Hulten with his series at the Centre Georges 
Pompidou in Paris: Paris— New York (1977), Paris— Berlin (1978), and 
Paris— Moscow (1979), on the basis of whose method the subsequent 
imposing European exhibitions were organized, from Harald 
Szeeman's Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk (1983) through Jean-Hubert 
Martin's Art & Pub (1990) to Jean Clair's Lame au corps, arts et sciences 
1773- 1973 (The soul of the body) at Grand Palais, 1993. In contrast a 
perfect example of monotheistic theologism was High & Low: Modern 
and Popular Culture held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 

4. Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero, Ricostruzione futurista 
dell 'universo (Futurist reconstruction of the universe), Milan, 
March 11, 1915. 

5. Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art (Chicago, 
1983), and Serge Guilbaut, ed., Reconstructing Modernism: Art in New 
York, Paris, and Montreal. 194s- 1964 (Cambridge, 1990). 

6. Ernesto Galli della Loggia, "Ideologie, classi e costumi," in Lltalia 
Contemporanea 1945- 1975 (Contemporary Italy 1945-1975. Turin, 1976), 

PP- 379-434- 

7. Umberto Eco, Apocalittici ed integrati (Apocalyptic and integrated. 
Milan, 1964). 

8. Giulio Carlo Argan, Salvezza e caduta nell'arte moderna (Salvation 
and downfall in modern art. Milan, 1961). 

9. Jean Baudrillard, Le Systeme des objets (The system of objects. Paris, 
1968), and Pour une critique de Veconomie politique (Toward a critique of 
political economics, Paris, 1972). 

xx Introduction 


r. J 






7 T, 






irmnent to 

In Total Freedom: 
Italian Art 1943- 1968 

Germano Celant 

September 8, Italy was a country divided in two: the South 
liberated by the British and Americans; and central Italy 
and the North controlled, through the Republic of Salo, by 
German forces besieged by the Resistance. 

It was a year of upheavals. The monopoly on political 
and cultural power had ended, but a new dualism was 
beginning between Fascism and anti-Fascism, Right and 
Left, nationalism and internationalism, officialdom and 
dissidence. It was an intermediate phase whose roots were 
already evident in 1942, when the arts in Italy — from film 
and literature to architecture and painting — sought to 
distance themselves from nationalism and Fascism in order 
to seek new solutions consistent with the internationally 
recognized avant-gardes.' Exemplary of the cultural climate 
in that year were the intellectual and political centrality of 
Elio Vittorini and his literary anthology Americana (1942, 
cat. no. 330); the scandalization of the Catholic church by 
ideological expressionism and Renato Guttuso's painting 
Crocifissione {Crucifixion, 1941, cat. no. 15), presented at the 
IV Premio Bergamo; the anguished and explosive reality of 
everyday Italy as portrayed by Luchino Visconti's Ossessione 
(Obsession, 1942; released in English as Ossessione), the first 
neorealist film; and the foreshadowings of urban planning 
in the Eur 42 district, the designs of which were still 
imbued with sublimated Fascist ideology. The country was 
not yet directly opposing Fascism, but it was asserting a 
different manner of thinking and looking that, without 
overtly confronting the rhetorical culture of the regime, 
began a process of distancing that would blossom in 1945, 
the year of the final liberation and reunification of Italy. 

The 1943 art world, in the wake of Corrente — a group of 
antiformalist, anti-Modernist painters operating from 1938 
to 1943 — began to elaborate a theoretical definition of 
realism that rejected emphatic, evasive art as indifferent to 
the real world. 2 An argument then arose concerning the 
role of the artist in society: What was his commitment to 
the world and his redemption in it, and what sort of 
dialogue or opposition should he establish with the arena of 
politics and ideology? The search for an elsewhere that 
might transcend the extremes of contrary visions such as 
realism and abstraction unleashed a series of bipolar 
clashes and arguments — praise versus condemnation of the 
irrational, individualism versus social commitment — that 
would become the main current of cultural developments 
in Italy for the next five years. From 1945 to 1948 the PCI 
(Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party) and 
Marxist theorists tried to limit the discourse of art, 
soliciting iconic treatments of political philosophy. 
Drawing inspiration from the example of Pablo Picasso's 
Guernica, they invited artists to reflect on reality, which for 
them possessed "a popular solemnity." The risk, however, 
was that a decline in cultural autonomy and self-regulation 
would occur, a process of coercive alignment from without. 
An imposition of propagandistic attitudes of the sort that 
had compromised the last works of Mario Sironi and the 
late Futurists was in danger of invalidating the realist 
aesthetic. The attempt by the party apparatus to co-opt 
and manipulate the art world found its greatest champion 
in Guttuso. The PCI made him the manager and defender 
in all matters of expression and language intended to 
affirm the extremist bond between art and society, which 
could only be achieved through realism, the enemy of 

4 Art 

abstract formalism. This iconographic subservience to 
politics immediately reduced art to a "local" phenomenon 
tied to the PCI leaders, a danger pointed out by Roger 
Garaudy in a 1946 essay that appeared in Elio Vittorini's 
review ll politecnico (Polytechnic). In it Garaudy asks, 
"Is avant-garde experiment Marxist? Or is 'subject' 
Marxist? ... A communist painter has the right to paint 
like Picasso. But he also has the right to paint differently 
from Picasso. . . . Marxism is not a prison: it is a tool for 
understanding the world. . . . The last word in this matter 
is this: that there is no last word. To work, then, and in 
total freedom." 

The Communist attempt to fill the vacuum created by 
the collapse of totalitarian certitudes with other certitudes 
of a Stalinist cast was opposed not only by artists but 
also by intellectuals just returned from exile.' Their 
international experience led them to reject any notion of 
"truth" that might be managed and transformed by an 
institutionalized or soon-to-be institutionalized power; 
instead they aspired to alternatives that might bring about 
a crisis in the continuity of power and its strategies of 
control. The artistic horizon from 1945 to 1948 thus grew 
richer from remarkable returns and surprising 

The art historian Lionello Venturi, who had chosen exile 
rather than support the Fascist regime, returned to Italy in 
1945 and assumed the chair in his field at the Universita di 
Roma. At the same time the Art Club was born in Rome 
under the patronage and management of the Futurist 
Enrico Prampolini, who in 1932, along with Adalberto 
Libera, Marcello Nizzoli, Sironi, and Giuseppe Terragni, 
had extolled the "Fascist Revolution."' Although Venturi 
and Prampolini had very different experiences and 
histories, both of them remembered the energy of the 
avant-gardes and fought for an internationalization of the 
Italian critical and artistic imagination. At their urging, 
the future generations slowly began to move again. Giulio 
Carlo Argan and Palma Bucarelli opened up to French art, 
instigating a reconsideration of the Cubist, nonfigurative 
generation not only in a Picassian light but also in 
accordance with the guidelines of an analytical language 
close to the abstract mentality. Young artists like Renato 
Birolli, Leoncillo {Leoncillo Leonardi}, Giulio Turcato, and 
Emilio Vedova, in their fight for a renewal of Italian art, 
gave birth to the Nuovo Secessione Artistica Italiana, 
aspiring to a language that would reflect history while 
maintaining its own absolute autonomy. In Rome the 
solitary Alberto Burri adopted Prampolini's practice of 
using various materials in a single work of art, avoiding any 
involvement in the fierce polemics and disputes of post- 
Fascism and favoring instead an art that found its own 
referent in colors and crude materials. In Milan this sort of 
attempt to discover the self- generating poetry of materials 
and things found champions in Lucio Fontana and Fausto 
Melotti, who were dedicated to an approach unbound to 
any theory other than that of the self-sustaining artist. 

In 1947 Spazialismo was born in Milan under the 
influence of the Manifesto Blanco (White manifesto) 
drafted in 1946 by Fontana's students in Argentina. At the 
same time in Milan the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti was 
formed, also in Milan, inspired by a Cubism of abstrat t 
tendencies, which provoked criticism by Communist 

ideologues because it fell outside the aesthetic purview ol 
the PCI. Also in 1947 the review Forma (Form) publish, 
manifesto signed by Carla Accardi, Pietro Consagra, Piero 

Dorazio, and Turcato, who polemically die lared themsi 
"formalists and Marxists" and soughl to inject their 
"intermediary" experiment into the art system so as to 
establish a modus vivendi between political engagement 
and the relative autonomy of the signs and proc esses ol art 
All of this activity triggered an avalaiu lu- <>t debates and 
impassioned diatribes about the concept of renew. il ami 
aesthetic engagement. Although almost all of tin artists 
and theorists of the time professed leftist political views, 
they constructed conflicting arguments around the idea ol 
artistic militancy, and clashes arose between different 
conceptions of "materiality. " For some this became visual 
creation bound to "low," popular subjects of society 
(demonstrations, strikes, squattings); for others it was 
bound to the dark, unconscious wellsprings of existence or 
to the lavalike quality of things. Groups and alignments 
were also formed that, despite local misunderstandings and 
sectarianism, nevertheless revolved around the art ism 
leadership of the only political force interested in 
discussing the public role of the artist and in ha\ ing a 
cultural identity: the Communist party. 

The XXIV Biennale in 1948 became the arena for clashes 
between those seeking to represent the workers and the 
Stalinist word and those engaged in formal and abstrae t 
experiments reminiscent of Vasily Kandinsky and Paul 
Klee. Venice also hosted the conflict between the historical 
reevaluation of Alberto Magnelli and the first presentation 
in Italy of Picasso, who was introduced in the catalogue by 
Guttuso. Each side branded the other as reactionary, but in 
the end it was a sterile debate arising perhaps from an 
artistic illiteracy developed during twenty years of 
disinformation and ideological sectarianism against all the 
international avant-gardes. Such ignorance constrasted 
sharply at the Biennale with the presentation of the Peggj 
Guggenheim collection, which featured, aside from the 
masters of abstraction and Surrealism, such young 
proponents of Action Painting and Abstract Expressionism 
as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. 

Imploded Forms and Materials 

Nineteen forty-eight was a crucial year for Italy W ith the 
elections of April 18 the DC (Democrazia Cristiana 
Christian Democratic part) > 1 onsolidated its power and 
succeeded in excluding the progressive forces, both 
Socialist and Communist, from the political and cultural 
management of the- country. This victor) proved to be 
Italy's ticket for entering a larger economic sphere . first the 
European, then the Ameru an, w hie h was \aste r and more 
advanced. The- Western powers demanded a broad, united 
market in order to counterbalance the Soviet bloc, and 
with an economic recovery sustained In aid from tin 
Marshall Plan. Italy was prompted to open up and 

liberalize foreign trade between [948 and 1952 This 
necessitated the rec onversion ol its entirt industrial system 
through advanced tet hnologies and obliged the countr) to 
accept foreign prote< tion, which translated into the 
exportation of 1 onsumer goods throughout I urop< 
Running athwart the urgent n< ed for produ< tion 
reconversions and trade openings, however, was the 

$ fj« I ,1.1111 

backwardness of Italian industry, which was divided into 
leading sectors (quick to adapt and therefore open to 
exchanges) and retrograde sectors (unprepared and 
therefore closed). 

Culturally in 1948 it was difficult to distinguish between 
Right and Left. Catholic conformists, following their 
popular vocation, constructed nothing more than a 
conservative attitude bent on defending the middle class. 
The Left started from a contrary position, but although it 
claimed to be rooted in the country's living reality and 
aspired to create a new cultural fabric, it got mired in the 
rhetoric of realism and displayed a shocking hostility 
toward, and an obtuse misunderstanding of, the historic 
avant-gardes in science, psychoanalysis, linguistics, and 
ethnology. It was a losing position accompanied by a 
refusal to come to terms with the cultural thematics of the 
century, and it had implosive results. Intellectuals, 
subjected to pressures from all sides to become 
instruments of the transmission of local power as well as 
aggregates of a colonizing culture of Anglo-American 
origin, underwent an involution. They isolated themselves, 
or at least they declined the invitation to choose between 
commanding and obedience imposed on them in the name 
of a collective Utopia. Instead they attempted to explore the 
disorientations and new ways of perceiving the world that 
these social, political, industrial, and ideological upheavals 
had produced. 

The rejection of any nostalgia for the past and any 
sanctification of the present, along with the renunciation of 
ideological controls, was welded to the assertion of a broad, 
European view and a market economy that spurred 
individuals into entering a multiplicity of identities. This 
in turn prompted intellectuals and artists to favor a 
discourse without Utopia or soul, without plans or referents 
other than their own identity and individuality. The 
sudden emergence of the European solution was 
immediately embraced by the Forma group when they 
asserted that "we are progressives who want to speak a 
European language,"" and the loss of political and 
ideological hierarchies that emerged with the refusal to 
submit to the demands of the political parties highlighted 
the singularities of individuals. In 1949 Fontana, who had 
returned from Argentina in 1947, and Burri, who had 
returned from Texas in 1946, adopted explosive positions in 
the territory of Italian art based on a visual knowledge and 
composition connected with everyday existence, which is 
fragmentary and occasional, inorganic and subjective, and 
extraneous to the extremist bond between art and politics. 
They were starting anew from the source of the biological 
and material self. Of importance here was gesture and 
space, the object and sign produced or used by the artist, 
who no longer conforms to ideology but seeks other centers 
of radiation and transmission and finds them in the high 
intellectual thematics of scientific and technological 
discoveries or the low ones of rough and crude materials 
hard-pressed by the struggle of survival. 

Fontana, in his Spazialismo, abandoned himself to the 
certitude of the idea and the definition of a space outside of 
realistic and naturalistic representation: the artist and the 
movement compelled the reason of the senses to sink into 
nothingness behind the canvas, where space is vast, even 
infinite. This Concetto spaz/a/e (Spat /a/ Concept) was 

6 Art 

obtained by piercing the uncut surface of the paper or 
canvas, which then grew until in 1949 it became an 
Ambiente spaziale (Spatial Environment), a territory of 
fluorescent colors illuminated by electrical lighting, which 
anticipated later experiments in Environmental and 
Minimal art that explored the mysterious and magical 
relationship between light and architecture." Art for 
Fontana did not involve the calculation and formulation of 
a cultural strategy; instead it worked with the 
incomprehensible and with the territories that lay beyond 
it. In this sense, his holes and cuts must not be taken in a 
negative light but a constructive one. They show an 
unexplored universe outside the usual academic and 
traditional paths. 

In Rome in 1950 the Origine group was formed by Mario 
Ballocco, Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi, and Ettore Colla. 
Ballocco elaborated: "origin ... as starting point of the 
inner principle ... to make non-figurative art . . . 
liberation from the multiple superstructures . . . 
identification as truth contained within ourselves."'' This 
was yet another group that opted for de-ideologization and 
an opposition to realism in order to explore the mute 
aspects of art, its primary and material languages, which 
cannot be mediated by theories or declarations but are 
entrusted to tar, sacks, slag, and personal hieroglyphics 
assembled in free and open arrangements. Everything 
seems to be crumbling under the banner of a will to change 
the life of art. The artists proceed by solderings and 
stitchings, amputations and cuts, patches and burns, 
punctures and lacerations; they seek to assert that the force 
from below is not only ideological but energetic and 
physical. Their results are still those of a painting and 
sculpture with surfaces and montages of materials afflicted 
by wounds, gouges, sulfurous cuts, bloody emulsions, 
corroded and musty spatial visions panting between life 
and death, between permanence and precariousness. 

The period from 1949 to 1953 was a time in which forms 
imploded, broke loose from systems of traditional 
reference, burnt themselves alchemically from within to 
attain new life. Beyond absoluteness, the autonomy of the 
aesthetic asserts its rights, and thus the individual may 
express himself and move toward full self-realization. In 
the absence of a petit-bourgeois or Utopian model of 
behavior, an interest in the negative truth of the historic 
avant-gardes was reborn. The premises of Futurism were 
suddenly recuperated, from the dynamism of Umberto 
Boccioni to the mixed-media polimaterismo 
(polymaterialism) of Prampolini, from the luminous 
discompositions of Giacomo Balla to the global art projects 
of Balla and Fortunato Depero. These became points of 
discussion for the Spazialismo and Informale of Fontana 
and Burri, as well as linguistic guarantees for an 
abstraction and an integration of the arts in such artists as 
Dorazio and Melotti. People looked to the contemporary 
relevance of Cubist, Futurist, and Dadaist collage and thus 
recuperated scraps of cloth and sacks, industrial finds and 
metal fragments. A similar attention to the Languages of 
the international avant-gardes informed the propagation ol 
Italian art: in 1949 Christian Zervos published works by 
Burri and Capogrossi in his Cahiers' d'Art, and the 
Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted Twentieth 
Century Italian Art, curated by James Thrall Soby and 

Alfred H. Barr. In 195:0 Art Italien Contemporain 
(Contemporary Italian art) was held in Amsterdam and 
Brussels, and in 1953, James Johnson Sweeney invited Burn 
to show in Younger European Painters at the Solomon R 
Guggenheim Museum in New York. 

Nevertheless, although the American and Western 
European powers were pressing for Italy's entry into the 
Western bloc, the memory of the brutal fight against the 
antidemocratic forces of Fascism, and later ol Stalinism, 
still colored their decisions as to cultural polk y. Tins 
attitude of suspicion and rejection was reiki ted in matters 
concerning the recognition of Italian art. Developments 
from between the two world wars (Futurism and 
Metaphysical art) were dismissed because they were cat her 
involved or contemporary with the birth and growth ol 
Fascism and therefore ideologically contaminated. 
Developments subsequent to 1943, though averse to 
nationalism and its rhetoric, were too much in line with 
"leftist" thought, to which the West demonstrated an 
absolute aversion. This dogmatic, restrictive vision, which 
is also reflected in New York developments, resulted in a 
dismissal of Italian art. For the same reason even t he- 
various currents and groups, their members and leading 
figures, active between 1909 and 1949, were rejected despite 
the common democratic vocation of Western European and 
American culture. 

Exceptions did exist. In the field of cinema the mam 
innovations of neorealism brought Italy to the attention of 
the major Hollywood studios; MGM and Fox reopened 
their agencies in Italy, and RKO and Universal established 
branches. In painting and sculpture artists like de 
Kooning, Alberto Giacometti, Philip Guston, Matta 
(Roberto Sebastian Matta Echaurren], Pollock, Robert 
Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Wols came to Italy to 
discover Afro {Afro Basaldella) and Burri and the Venice 
Biennales, or they were exhibited at Italian galleries like 
the Naviglio in Milan and the Obelisco in Rome.' Aside 
from the interest of a small part of the art world, however, 
the Italian experience, albeit fascinating, was ignored. Tin 
memory of recent history was still alive. 

Alongside the political reasons and monopolistic 
strategies regarding culture (the French, for example, were 
determined to preserve the leadership ol Paris in the art 
world"), the rejection of Italian art ma) also have been 
caused by its sensual and "baroque" extremism, w hi< h has 
its roots in a "low" and material, but also sat red and 
Catholic, vision ot the world. 'lb a Puritan culture with 
reductive and minimizing tendencies, it is impossible to 
conceive ot the impurity and agony ot politic al as will as 
physical materiality. The t oniradu ton and dialectical 
dichotomies between matter and spun, sm ial and 
individual, essential and redundant, ephemeral and 
permanent, history and present, fusion and contusion. 
which systcma t icallj mark Italian art, i on founded tin 
linear Anglo-Saxon mind. The mixtures and ambivalt n 
ot memory and future, engagement and disengagement, 

hast ism and anti Fas< ism. demoi r.u \ and ( ommunism. 
t radit ion and innovation, so typical of creativt activitj in 
Italy, frightened the observers. I Ia> ing arriv< d as liberators, 
the <. ultures ol the Anglo Saxon world intended to assert 
their own truth, w hu h could not In- identified with am 
story ot Left or Right, Prool ot this was in the 

( ,, rmano Ceianl 

marginalization of politically engaged artists that took 
place around 1949 in New "York in favor of the visual 
spectacularity of Pollock, 11 which had negative 
repercussions for almost all contemporary French art." 

In this light all Italian art became suspect, guilty of the 
sin of "political engagement," which is the real subject of 
the aesthetic conflict between realism and Informale 
between 1948 and 1959. The idea was that art must be 
purged of all spurious elements and ideological 
contaminations. It must be beatified, but only through the 
individualist idealism of Abstract Expressionism and its 
leading figures, from Pollock to de Kooning; or it must be 
annulled in images of a popular banality. From 1949 to 1963 
the expression of Italian art is subjected to an 
informational death. 

Around 1952 the whirlwind of Informale shook Italian 
art to its very foundations. It involved a realization of the 
genetic dimension of artistic formation, which works with 
the germs or embryos of the painting or sculpting process. 
One focused on the gesture and the act, on the magma 
latent in the materials and in primary signs. It was a 
new start, from the flesh to the stain, from the limitation 
of the surface and of space to the opening of free and 
irrational assemblage. A diffuse, continuous amorphism 
was unleashed, a reconnoitering of the elements of the 
artistic act. 

The Furor and the Concept, Lava and Equilibrium 

Amid the constant pressure to mediate a conception of art 
as the referent of an ideal but secular model of the human, 
Burri has always tried to define painting in a concrete and 
material manner as subject to the vicissitudes of time. His 
paintings since 1948 have been covered with abrasions, 
tears, rags, holes, patches, mildews, and scars that, when 
sewn together — the artist is also a medical doctor — form a 
corroded skin of the developments of history: witness Gobbo 
(Hunchback, 1950, cat. no. 5), or the intense and lavalike 
Catrame (Tar) series (see cat. nos. 1, 2). Burri's works are at 
once tactile and visual, and what matters in them is the 
occurrence and amplification of a sensual self-construction 
and self-corrosion. They display the pleasure of touching 
and leave aside all forms of careful elaboration, including 
that of literary justification, in order to highlight the 
various strata and levels of the existence of materials. These 
are bodies that grow, as in Gobbo, in which the painting's 
skin protrudes and loses its function as passive support in 
order to assert itself as organized, living matter in motion. 
The image of tension toward the external attests to the 
artist's desire to make painting ardent, or impatient with 
the limits of its surface. Burri wants to resort to the furor 
of Tintoretto and the passion of Bernini to confront the 
weight, the interweavings, the heat and burden of the 
image. His Saccbi (Sacks) make matter speak, revealing the 
secret power and energy that allow it to survive industrial 
anonymity. The sack is of the age, 1950, a degraded, 
devalued, worthless material, a nothing out of which the 
artist makes an everything. He discovers a vast meaning 
and task for it, making it capable of replacing color, to the 
point where his paintings sometimes present the same 
compositions as those of Piet Mondrian, with the place of 
blues and reds taken by pieces of sack. The sack is neither 
an extra-artistic material nor a painterly supermaterial; it 

x Art 

is what it is, and its being passes and perishes like any 
form of existence. The sacks interweave with gold, red, and 
white — as in Bianco (White, 1952, cat. no. 30) and Sacco e 
bianco (Sack and White, 1953, cat. no. 32) — and establish a 
broadening and extension of painting into the world, an 
opening that caught the eye of Rauschenberg when he 
visited Burri in Rome in 1952. u 

Burri's iconoclasm, combined with the contemporary 
and equally radical iconoclasm of Fontana in Milan, 
provoked endless discussions and reactions. s His material 
exasperation of the language of painting corrodes the 
stereotyped formulas of abstraction and figurative art over 
which the supporters of various groups were getting so 
excited and eclipses the debate with the poeticization and 
exaltation — sacred, though secular"' — of the scrap, the 
vestige. Starting in 1952 Burri widened his range of 
materials and techniques to include plastic, wood, and 
iron, using a torch and fire as pigments and painting 
implements. Such works as Grande Ferro M4 (Large Iron 
AI4, 1959, cat. no. 38), Grande legno combustione (Large Wood 
Combustion, 1958, cat. no. 39), and Rosso P/astica (Red Plastic, 
1964, cat. no. 75) are infernal, volcanic pages wherein the 
material erupts from the pictorial crater and manages to 
occupy the uncut space of the wall. They rasp at the 
dynamics of painting, reflecting contortions, fevers, burns, 
and wounds, and they clear the way for the works of 
subsequent generations, from Piero Manzoni to Jannis 

Fontana's path, although parallel to Burri's, began 
farther away. He emerged from the abstract experiences of 
the 1930s and formed himself in the wake of Boccioni's 
assertion that art must become "the lyric expression of the 
modern conception of life, based on the speed and 
contemporaneity of knowledge and communication." 17 For 
Fontana art is a vital act displayed as creative, anarchic 
power with respect to the scientific developments of one's 
time. It lives freely together with emerging theories of 
space and energy and glorifies behavioral dynamism. For 
this reason its activity is related to the need to open up 
new paths or universes of artistic consciousness, to create 
and enter the black holes of space. Thus Fontana's 
peregrinations, after the experiences of 1931—48 — in which 
he liquefied figures until they came to form a shape or a 
figure in space (see Scultura spaziale [Spatial Sculpture, 
1947, cat. no. 8], and Crocifissione [Crucifixion, 1948, cat. 
no. 10]) — lead him to the buco (hole). 

The extraordinary appearance of perforations in paper in 
1949 — the Concetti spaziali (Spatial Concepts, see cat. nos. 
11 -13) — carries to an extreme the petrification and 
crystallization of the idea of space, that unknown universe 
on this side of and beyond the painted surface. The act of 
puncturing or cutting the painting violates its 
absoluteness, makes it pass from consistency to 
immateriality. It sets in motion a mechanism of the 
impalpable imaginary, not that represented in the oneiric 
figurations of the Surrealists but the same concrete one 
experienced by anyone passing through darkness. In 1949, 
in fact, Fontana constructed his Ambiente spaziale (Spat ml 
Environment) with black light, wherein the spectator can 
penetrate the very substance of his spatial concepts. The 
desire is to question the gesture-boundary, the plane of 
conjuction and separation between light and dark, above 

and below, known and unknown, whose diale< ti< 
dramatically emerges. At times the- pre< iousness ol the 
discover}' is heightened by a material marvel, like the 
stones in some Concetti spaziali (Spatial Concepts ; see 1 at. 
nos. 46, 47) or the shape of the color figure- in Concetto 
Spaziale. Forma (Spatial Concept. Form, 19s", ear. no. .49). At 
other times it is intensified by the very outline ot the 
painting itself, which transforms itself into a system ot 
energetic chain reactions in Concetto Spaziale. I (Juan/a, 
(Spatial Concept. The Quanta, i960, cat. no. s~). or into a 
symbol of reproduction in Concetto Spaziale. La Genesi 
(Spatial Concept. Genesis, 1963, cat. no. 94). Once materiality 
has been singled out, the function of the cut, compared to 
the hole, becomes clear. In Concetto Spaziale. Attest (Spatial 
Concept. Expectations, 1958, cat. no. 52) the material register 
becomes subtler, loses its voluptuousness, turns cold. The 
cut penetrates, bites into the smooth sruface, but tin 
material and carnal influx has been interiorized and gives 
way to the idea. The alteration of the surface becomes 
transparent, veiled, so that the light passes through a black 
gauze. The light abandons the torment of the dramatii 
rupture and the material consistency. typical ot the hole, 
dematerializing in exaltation of the concept in all its 
spatial absoluteness. 19 

Vedova's adventure also has its roots in the 1930s and 
intersects in the postwar period with the battles and 
clashes over the renewal of Italian art. Vedova's, however, is 
a journey marked by anarchy and an intolerance ot any sort 
of definition, a journey that takes shape in the labor ot a 
discourse that wants to free itself of all limits. 1 le began in 
1937, and until 1948 his paintings, although figurative and 
neo-Cubist, were of interest because of the brushstrokes 
and the lively, absolute colots. They betrayed an anguish 
that would lead him to break with every group and 
collective, from Corrente and the Nuovo Secessions 
Attistica Italiana to Fronte Nuovo delle Arti and Gruppo 
degli Otto. His works, from Autoritratto con lo tpecchio a 
terra (Self-portrait with Mirror on tin Ground, [937) to 
Geometrie (Geometries, 1948), are an incubation and 
maturation of formal and expressive means, which in 1950, 
after the explosions of La lotta-i Cl'lh Strugglt 1. 1949. cat. 
no. 25) and Europa 'so (Europe 'so, 1949-50, cat. no. 2.6), 
freed his imprisoned soul and led to the CJclo della protesta 
(Protest Cycle, 1956, see cat. no. 64) and the Scontro di 
situazioni (Conflicting situations, i9s~, cat. no. 67). Pure- 
scratches furrow the surface like accidental, unexpet ted 
galaxies, vestiges of vanished constellations ot emotion, 
given to capturing unconscious intensities and spewings ot 
memory. On the space of the canvas, a true' arena ot 
torments and fears, ot sweetness and rage, the Venetian 
artist presents himself without defenses, offering lus 
existential anxieties to others in order to become their 

It the artistic moment between [952 and 1958 was defined 
by the polarity between Abstract Expressionism and 
[nformale, Vedova cuts out his own specific territory from 
within, the territory ot the errant'' sign, w hi< h pro. ( ( Js 

by leaps and bounds, through hinges and 1 ra< ks ( ompared 
to the Abstr.u t I xpressionists, who display a tendency to 
control ami define, Vedova lets tin- si^ns take the initial 
and dominate the stage, Ins them come from Ins < j 
which are closed when he paints and wreak havoi in the 

~> (/, rmano < 

paths and plans for producing segments and fragments 
from which the troubled spaces are formed. Compared to 
the idealism of the Americans, for Vedova there is no 
future recompense, no linear perspective or advent of a new 
(American) society, no celebration. There is no sense of 
death in Franz Kline's blacks, but there is in Vedova's 
deeply felt colors, so much so that his explosions of 
material and color serve to reconstruct the image — a 
description used by German artist Georg Baselitz in regard 
to his Neo-Expressionist work. From 1959 to 1964 still 
another transformation takes place in Vedova: the blade of 
the picture becomes scissor and pincer. First the surface 
folds in a corner, in osmosis with the space; then it gives 
birth to the Plurimz, as in the Absurdes Berliner Tagesbuch 
'64, Plurimo N. 5/7 (Absurd Berlin Diary '64, Plurimo, No. 
5/7, 1964, cat. no. 68), consisting of clusters of finds and 
pictorial limbs meant to consolidate even further a revolt 
against the beatitude of forms and figures. Placed in their 
historical moment, 1964, they become linguistic blockades 
against the closed system of Arte Programmata and 
Minimalism. They stand against the reductive desire to 
dematerialize the object in order to annul it in 
architectural space. 20 

Compared to painting, sculpture was decidedly oriented 
toward Informale, but it still lived on the dialectic between 
the formless and the iconic, between the exaltation of a 
wealth of found materials recomposed in fanciful, mythic 
assemblage, as in Melotti and Colla, and a construction of 
individual and suggestive magmas in which the attack on 
figuration is cause for iconic memories with references to 
abstraction, as in Consagra, Leoncillo, Marino Marini, and 
Arnaldo Pomodoro. These two poles were based in Milan 
and Rome. The first was devoted to planned construction, 
similar to the synthesis of the arts as concerns design and 
architecture, and anticipated the pure visibility of Op art 
and Arte Programmata. The second was inclined to a freer, 
less linear assemblage, since it was burdened by the weight 
of history and therefore more interested in attacking 
conventions and destroying traditions. Positions were taken 
based on the fragmentation and reproposition of the object 
in a neo-Dada vein: on the one hand the stele-sculptures of 
Fontana and the magic-invisible sculptures of Melotti, on 
the other the concrete, ponderous vision of Colla's 
assemblages, which consist of mechanisms stripped of 
context and combined according to an image, and 
Leoncillo's tumescences and puckerings of terra-cotta 
crossed by sudden strokes of smooth surface. 

Melotti's sculpture combines light and felicitous 
materials. It represents a ceremony in which the rhythmic 
ecstasy of things and elements passes between stasis and 
movement. The fragments of cloth and metal, the 
cardboard surfaces and touches of color, evince an energy 
that provokes an almost sensual well-being, a visual joy. 
They evoke inner and outer movement, as though art were 
presenting itself as a moment of excitation and play, an 
invitation to the pleasure that makes one forget time/ 1 This 
agitation among the unknown essences of the sculptural 
code, as rigorous as they are happy and playful, oscillates 
between the material register and the mental impetus and 
allows Melotti to carry out, in time, continual linguistic 
shifts that lend a systematic charm to his artistic 
landscape. Always new and always renewed, the pleasure of 

10 Art 

forms is incessantly slipping and rebuilding itself. It 
curves, swells, multiplies, and deepens the tactility of the 
materials, becomes alive and velvety, multicolored and 
turgid. These multiple exuberances date from 1925 and 
continually grow; they culminate, alter a long period of 
silence and devotion to ceramics, in the bas-reliefs and 
little theatres of 1944— 46 — as in Solo cot cerchi (Alone with 
the Circles, 1944, cat. no. 21) — and in the metal works of 
1958 — 1964: for example, La casa dell'orologiaio (The 
Watchmaker's House, i960, cat. no. 168) and Josephine Baker 
(1962, cat. no. 167). Each sculpture lives by surprise and by 
the gentle aerial tension between the voids and the images. 
In it, space begins again and again, as if it were breathing. 
The inner breath or flow of air, whose linguistic matrix lies 
with Alexander Calder or Joan Miro, two of Melotti's 
historical references, help align the Milanese artist's works 
with their surroundings. The elements are almost 
transformed into musical instruments making inaudible 
sounds articulated between solidity and immateriality. 

In Rome, after various group experiences, from Fronte 
Nuovo delle Arti to Origine, marked by political 
figurativism and Classical and Renaissance sculptures, 
Leoncillo and Colla entered a new sculptural phase in 
1952— 56 inspired by the lavalike qualities of crude 
materials and the identity of metals already worked. After 
some experience with figurative ceramics, as in Madre 
romana uccisa dai tedeschi I (Roman Mother Killed by the 
Germans I, 1944, cat. no. 16), Leoncillo turned his attention 
in 1952 to the contorted and swollen "flesh" of terra-cotta. 
He moved from the representative expressionism of 
portraits and still lifes of 1944-46 and the neo-Cubist 
constructions of 1948— 56 to a formal experimentation with 
light passing through the materials, as in Taglio bianco 
(White Cut, 1959, cat. no. 59). Resorting to a single, 
uncolored substance on which the cuts evoke the leavening, 
the ebullition, the interior of his spirit, he gives us San 
Sebastiano II (Saint Sebastian II, 1962, cat. no. 106). The 
intention is to highlight the gesture trapped in a formless 
primordial energy, earthen mixture, and chaos. 

Displaying a greater sense of structure is the sculpture 
of Colla. This artist, who worked with the scraps and 
residues of the industrial present, finds in factory vestiges a 
universe of mythological and primitive figurations." 
Drawing equal inspiration from Dada poetics and Cubist 
assemblage, he looks for fragments and objects he can 
rearrange in narratives. Colla makes ironic, vigorous totems 
with names like Orfeo (Orpheus, 1956, cat. no. 41) or rigorous 
structures that turn ironic and playful, as in Le chiavi di 
San Pietro (St. Peter's Keys, 1962, cat. no. 82). They may even 
become reductive elements, almost monochrome paintings, 
as in Rilievo con bulloni (Relief with Bolts, 1957-59, cat. 
no. 44). 

The spread of Informale and its appeal to circumscribing 
the ungraspability of space and materials, which for 
Fontana and Burri are problematically heavy entities, did 
not preclude lightness, as synthesized in the search for 
chromatic effects and luminosity. Color's whirlwind and 
tumult of light and liquid energy always attracted Afro, 
who after his early neo-Cubist experiences and his trip to 
New York devoted himself to brightening and Liquefying 
his colors. His paintings after 1950, which combine features 
of Mark Rothko and Arshile Gorky, live on the instability 

of their chromatic phenomena. They arc- light, sensible- 
universes, like Per una ricorrenza (lor an Annit t nary . 1955, 
cat. no. 2^), in which the dissolution of form presents .1 
scenario of crumbling, sick, feverish images. Atro is not 
interested in fortifying materials but in unllcshmg, 
debilitating, and nebulizing them to make them refined 
and sublime: Volo di notte (Night Flight, 1 9 s ~ , cat. no. z8) is 
one instance. 

Afro and Turcato were the most shining examples ol 
experimentation in the pleasure of color. Turcatos tree and 
open forms are forever seeking the closest possible relation 
to the source of light, abolishing all depth in order to 
become dazzling structures, as in Deserto det Tartari (IX u ri 
0/ the Tartars. 1956, cat. no. 61). They are larval 
luminescences that live on the very epidermis of color and 
wander tense and suspended on the surface of the canvas, 
sometimes losing their features in favor of the glowing 
circularity of the painterly gesture and the superimposition 
of chromatic modules: Cib che si vede (That Which Can Be 
Seen, 1956, cat. no. 63), for example. This interest in the 
phenomenon of light is rooted in Futurism, in Balla and 
his analyses of "iridescent interpenetrations," w herein 
natural luminosity is analyzed from the perspective of an 
artificial vision, that of the science of electrical energy. 
Dorazio was also concerned with radiance and its 
chromatic agitations, but he was less interested in the 
Futurist vortex or eddy than in its lines of force/' Thus he 
painted their continuum first as undefinable and 
portentuous — Tantalo 7(1958—59, cat. no. 85) — then as 
structured and displayed — Long Distance (1963, cat. no. 88). 

The magnetic force of the material, the energetic charge 
of the gesture, and the electricity of the color, reminds us 
that Informale, like Action Painting, contains a universe of 
hieroglyphics and personal signs through which the artist 
identifies himself. The graffito is testimony to his will to be 
in the world. The fulfillment of a desire to exist, a desire 
neither irrational nor material, characterizes the work of 
Capogrossi, who belonged to the Origine group together 
with Burri and Colla. In 1949—50, after a number of 
Cubist- and Futurist-inspired experiments with 
typographical characters, he began to identify a bask sign. 
a gearlike iconography with toothed wheels, that could be 
combined with other signs of the same matrix, as in 
Superficie 6j(Surjace 6j, 1950, cat. no. 6). I lis hieroglyphs 
are indecipherable archetypes that form Inns and 
interweave, move arbitrarily or rigorously about to e nan 
informal and optical effects. At times the combination 
produces a bubbling of currents and flows. ( reating 
constellations and abstract forces with infinite- openings, as 
in Superficit 210 (Surfaci no, 10s _ . cat. no. 7). 

Finally there is A( < ardi, who joined in the stud) ol free 
signs but rejected the cold and rational analysis employed 
by Capogrossi to ac hieve a unitary whole-. I lers is rat In r a 
painting of unbridled signs, a painting in sean h ol the 
extreme instance between rational and irrational, between 
positive and negative, as m Grandt I 
Integration, [957, cat. no. 71). Her labyrinths displaj a 
sensual magnetism, cultivating a ferment that tends 
toward an agglomeration oi materials and i olors 
limitless, struc tural, and environmental as in I 
rossovi rdi dud Gra n I . 196 (., cat. no '2) and R '»lt 

(Rolls, 1965 68, ^ at no. ~o). 

11 Gertnano Celant 

The period from 1949 to 1959 in Italian art found 
expression in an ideological free spiritedness that favored 
linguistic self-confidence. Power was located not so much 
in the path to the social and the public as in the push into 
the primary coordinates of painting and sculpting, of 
gestures and materials. It was not a will to ideological 
blindness that the artists were after but rather an analysis 
of the product and producer of signs and traces, the 
propulsive terms of a new aesthetics linked to the 
industrial boom, to the consolidation of the means of mass 
communication, and to the consumerism that would mark 
the decade to come. 

The Synthesis 

In the five-year period from 1958 to 1963, Italian industrial 
development accelerated and was joined by an ever growing 
increase in exports. The country was modernizing and the 
economic miracle unfolding, bringing well-being to every 
social class. The rapid expansion, together with the 
considerable productivity, made possible a greater 
distribution of wealth. It was not just an Italian 
phenomenon; the entire Western European economy was in 
a state of expansion. The distances between individual 
countries grew shorter, the social imbalances diminished. 
Cities grew beyond measure, with a tremendous amount of 
new building taking place. Builders and decorators, the 
businessmen associated with architecture and design, 
benefited from all this. There was a great increase in work 
opportunities related to housing, appliances, and 

In a ten-year span Italy had changed face and soul. 
Lifelong habits were overturned, and objects, consumerism, 
the mass mentality began to emerge triumphant. The 
handicraft and peasant mentalities went into crisis as 
industrial culture established itself. While actual distances 
grew shorter, the space between tradition and novelty 
shrank. The car was the symbol of movement, and a 
stimulus to the flourishing consumption. Every social class 
became familiar with mass-produced objects. At the same 
time the masses were subjected to exhortations that they 
look after their bodies through fashion and beauty 
treatments. A mass integration of tastes took place, 
becoming the subject of scientific studies. 2 '' 

In the sphere of artistic languages, the erosion of 
differences was reflected in an integration and synthesis of 
the arts. Architecture, design, and industrial photography 
dragged the arts into their domains. The idea of 
interdisciplinarity based on the collaboration of visual 
techniques and research took hold. In 1958 many new 
groups were formed, from Gruppo T to Gruppo N, 
exhibiting new models and mass-produced visual products 
marked by a programmed approach to work and 
perception. At the same time, taking their cue from late 
Futurists like Bruno Munari and movements like 
Spazialismo and Arte Nucleare (which had attempted a 
broadening of architecture), young artists from Enrico 
Castellani and Gianni Colombo to Enzo Mari and 
Francesco Lo Savio founded La Nuova Tendenza, which 
centered around cine-visual experiments that would lead to 
Arte Programmata. The aspiration to an osmosis among 
languages did not, however, become a dialogue but rather 
helped to formulate a working strategy revolving not 

12 Art 

around an ideological Utopia but rather a Utopia of 
technology and the mass distribution of the work of art. 
The growth of these trends was linked to the attempt to 
define and construct new, perception-based models of 

The technological asceticism of industrial design led Lo 
Savio to abandon the subjective personalism of Informale 
in favor of a design approach involving vision and light. 
The tiniest entities became the objects of his attention; art 
is reduced to the level of inner communication, concerned 
mostly with the analysis of its own visual phenomena. The 
awareness of having to resolve the artifact through its own 
primary elements led him in 1959, at the outset of his 
career, to posit the coordinates of his art by painting works 
entitled Nero {Black) and Giallo (Yellow) before passing on 
to transparencies between these two chromatic poles. The 
paintings span a dilation of reduced elements, like the 
"black" paintings of Ad Reinhardt, except that for the 
Roman artist the goal is to create an optical flow of light 
expanding from the center to the perimeter, from the 
painting and into the room. His Minimalist work began in 
1962, but all of his short-lived efforts (he died in 1963) were 
an attempt to produce an effect of visual seismography that 
would affect the continuity of space: a theoretical and 
practical anticipation of the phenomenological procedure 
of Minimal art with respect to architecture. In fact his 
Spazio-luce {Space-Light) series (see cat. no. 107) proposes to 
analyze the energetic and luminous limits of color, which 
expands from the center to the edges. Later, in his Filtri 
(Filters) series, the artist attempts to create a threshold 
through which light should pass and expand into the 
surrounding space. This effect is created with black metals, 
as in Metallo nero opaco uniforme (Uniform Opaque Black 
Metal, i960, cat. no. 109), in which the dilation of the 
object, though limited to curved or diagonal surfaces, 
expands the area of light. Finally there is Articolazione totale 
(Total Articulation, 1962, cat. no. m), a cube of white 
cement with curved black metal wherein the relation 
between inside and outside, between light and space, 
establishes minimal relations and events that set a 
precedent recognized even by American sculptors. 17 

The eclipse of Informale was also attibuted to the 
association between Castellani and Manzoni, who in 1959 
founded the review Azimuth and opened the gallery 
Azimut — both of these outlets began to champion the 
purity and simplicity of the artistic act, developing a 
critical stance toward the rhetoric of the irrational gesture 
and the chaotic piling of material onto the canvas. Though 
indebted to Burri and Fontana, Castellani and Manzoni 
aimed at turning away from gesturality and returning to 
an art of ideas. They defined a rational, analytical method, 
first subjecting the painting to a tabula rasa, as in 
Castellani's monochromes and Manzoni's Achromes, then 
embarking on experiments in the concept of art as optical 
and perceptive process (Castellani) and as operative and 
corporeal process (Manzoni). In Superficie bianca, 11. f(Wbiti 
Surface No. 5, 1964, cat. no. 78) Castellani, through simple 
sequences of protruding points both positive and negative, 
creates rhythms cadenced by lights and shadows and in 
continual movement, achieving a virtual three- 
dimensionality entirely centered around optical and purist 
effects. The new models of industrial culture and 

consumption, however, which were interwoven with a 
certain hedonistic ideology, created a crisis, oral least a 
hindrance, for any idea ot purist intervention or renewal. 
Consumerism and mass behavior took on virulent aspe< ts. 
which left artists feeling crushed and unprepared. It was 
difficult to recover one's balance in the clash between 
traditional values, like those of Catholic Italian culture, 
and the materialistic, secular avalanche informing modern 
capitalist aesthetics. 

Manzoni's work is concerned with the duality of an 
artistic existence that leads to the realization of products 
and the exaltation of appearances, from the very beginning 
he insisted that it is impossible to separate the work ot art 
from the imprint of humanity, and indeed that they must 
exist together. All his activity involved a synthesis ot the 
two poles. Thus the object reincarnates itself as a self- 
producing entity in the Achromes (see cat. no. 116), and the 
subject reincarnates himself in his own physical and bodiK 
residues in Merda dArtista (Artists Shit, 1961, cat. nos. 
132-160) and Fiato dArtista {Artist's Breath). As a member 
of the post-Informale generation that had left behind the 
ideological and liberational myths of the postwar period. 
Manzoni posits no future path, no Utopia; any element 
whatsoever is a sign of loss and negation, as well as ot ironj 
and critique of the consumeristic acceleration ot art . The 
Achromes are paintings that turn against all mimetic value, 
interpreting no other flux than that of the materials 
kaolin, wool fibers, cotton, rabbit skin, fluorescent 
pigment. The artist dives into his viscera and proclaims a 
work of art: his feces. And if there is no incompatibility 
between the primary elements of which art is composed— 
the painting and the artist — then the drawing and its line, 
the instrument of drawing and the apparatus ot 
presentation, can be offered as absolute. Starting in [959, 
Manzoni executed a number of lines ot varying length, 
from 0.78 meters to 19. 11 meters, which he placed in black 
cardboard containers. The longest line is Lima m -200. 4 
luglio i960 (Line 7200 ///.Jul) 4. i960, i960, cat. no. 11-) 
produced at a paper-mill in I lerning, Denmark, between 
4:00 pm and 6:55 pm. Base del mondo (Ban oj thi \\ »>ld. 
1961, cat. no. 166), is one of those magic bases that have the 
power to transform whatever is placed on them into a work 
of art. Base del mondo takes this rite to its extreme: being 
turned upside down, it supports the sphere ot the earth, 
whereby it transforms, to this very d.i\. ever) person, 
animal, and thing on earth into art. 

In Rome, Tano Festa, Kounellis, Lo Savio, and Mario 
Schifano initially succeeded in annulling realism illusion 
and the conception ot an elsewhere, which is typical ot 
Guttusian realism' and Informale, In effecting a total 
reduction to nothingness that transformed art into the 
negation of drawing and representation. Their white or red 
screens with bands, linear strtu tures. writings, or objects, 
reveal the gratuitiousness of tin- games ot representation 
and formlessness so dear to the' preceding generations 
They seek to revive the- potential ot tin painting and 
sculptural system as a primary and primordial procedure. 
Thus Kounellis and N In tano began painting in i>><-, with 
systems of elementary signs traffic markers, signboards, 
letters ot the alphabet. They highlight tin realitj ot banal, 
everyday < odes that, when plat ed against lai 
monochrome backgrounds Kounellis (see cat nos 1 

1 ; (.,, rmano < 

102) — or defined perimetrically as screens — Schifano's A 
De Chirico (To De Chirico, 1962, cat. no. 200) — produce a 
nonsense symptomatic of a fragmentary, shattered, and 
therefore "metaphysical" culture: that of the mass media 
and industry. Schifano thinks of the painting as a fragment 
of memory, the filmic photogram passing swiftly by, 
whereas for Kounellis the painting is a multidimensional 
score of words and sounds that will lead the artist to 
transform his art into a panoply of sensory experiences 
evoked by the use of such materials as fire and cacti (see 
cat. nos. 212, 213). These processes of drawing from 
everyday urban life can be taken as attempts to put oneself 
in harmony with the narratives large and small of 
metropolitan industrial culture, from neon bar signs to the 
great screens of the movie houses. Instead of producing 
new icons, Schifano, Kounellis, and Festa display an 
awareness of those already in existence: pedestrian crossing 
stripes, the Roman she-wolf, the obelisk, Esso and Coca- 
Cola billboards, graffiti on city walls. 

Festa and Mimmo Rotella share an identification with 
street subculture and the icons of mass communication. 
Festa linguistically cuts out and tears away the sacred icons 
of art, from the hands of Adam and Eve in G'mdizio 
Universale (Last Judgment, 1962) to Obelisco (Obelisk, 1963, 
cat. no. 93), '° and through a process of filtration he reduces 
them to advertising copy, using industrial colors and 
fluorescent paints. Rotella, a member of the Nouveaux 
Realistes, does the opposite, tearing posters away 
physically and creating decollages. The re-presentation of 
the layers of posters without any painterly intervention is 
intended to underscore the creative significance of mass- 
media communication, and to point out that material and 
chromatic causality is linguistic density. 

The theme of synthesis unites Manzoni and 
Michelangelo Pistoletto, except that the latter is interested 
in the dialectic between reality and reflection bound 
together by the umbilical cord of art. Thus while Manzoni 
wants to go beyond the artifact to bring the artificer into 
the picture as well, Pistoletto creates a vertigo or point of 
contact between being and appearing, stasis and history, 
the fixed past presented in images and the continuous 
present of the reflected situation, all of which meet on the 
threshhold of the mirroring surface: Uomo di schiena. II 
presente (Man Seen from the Back. The Present, 1961, cat. no. 
190), for example. The idea is to realize a work with the 
strength to remain perpetually available," by means of 
reflection, to the present moment of a world changing in 
time. The intention is to explore a dialogue between the 
essential subjectivization of art on the one hand and the 
cauldron of life on the other, the first captured by means of 
painterly representation or photographic paper, the second 
reflected in a continuous flow on the surface of a mirror. 
This is an unending process of registration, whose 
precariousness counterbalances the stasis of the 
photographed figure. It surrounds a static presence with a 
dynamic, infinite present. With works like Donna seduta di 
spalle (Seated Woman, 1962-63, cat. no. 192), Pistoletto has 
produced the most potent painterly instrument art has 
ever imagined or dreamed of for mastering chance and 
time, which are returned to static, mimetic vision. He has 
created a surface almost like a film or video recording, a 
surface as "interface in which a constant activity, in the 

14 Art 

form of exchange, reigns between the two substances 
brought into contact. " : This device overturns the meaning 
of painting as relative substance (Marcel Duchamp) or as 
accident (Pollock), because it makes placement in space not 
only an open window but a movie camera. In the 
dialectical joining of presence and absence, immanence and 
transcendence, painting floats in the doublure (lining) in 
which meaning and meaninglessness meet, where one 
passes from the pulsation to the order of things and to the 
order of culture. 

The work of Domenico Gnoli moves in a dimension 
uniting the universal and the contingent. In his paintings 
the magnetism of detail affecting objects and bodies 
bespeaks a being that converses with the nonbeing of 
inanimate elements. He looks at reality as if it were a total 
abstraction, a place of grand illusions and hyperreal 
representations. Instead of merely dwelling on the reality of 
this or that place, event, or time, Gnoli reverences the 
flashes and flickers found in cutting out a portion of reality. 
He confers meaning upon the detail of a shirt in Giro di 
collo 1$ 'li (Neck Size 15 7 2 , 1966, cat. no. 100), and his eyes 
are struck by an insignificant reality in Tavoli (Tables, 1966, 
see cat. no. 99). By extracting provisional, relative 
fragments from the flow of images catching our eye, the 
artist underscores the relativity of what we know, which 
derives solely from the attempt to fit the ego into the 
world, a subjectivity that saves us from a terrifying but 
vital and mysterious objectivity." 

Certainly these concerns with things and events as 
cumbersome and metaphysical impositions on art can be 
historically traced to Pop art's concern with the ephemeral. 
This trend, as of 1962, effected a poeticization of the 
surrounding world by conferring aesthetic significance on 
popular everyday images from the mass media: 
advertisements, comic books, billboards, photographic 
reproductions. The rediscovery of urban contextuality 
transformed the surrounding space into text, whereby the 
city and its architecture, furniture, and people could be 
read like a map. With Gnoli they became significant. Art 
takes the form of a gaze directed at the enigma of the 
world, the solution of which recedes further and further 
into the distance as the investigation proceeds. 

At the opposite pole of this investigation of sight is the 
examination of its basic components: the squaring of the 
paper, the paintbrush, the can of paint, the canvas, the 
painting, and the painter. From the very start of his career, 
Giulio Paolini has attempted to formulate his doctrine of 
art, from the theoretical to the concrete, through a body of 
analytical work. His ideas on language have aimed at the 
construction or definition of a whole based on the 
fundamental principles of seeing and being seen. His 
artistic approach seemed at first directed toward 
continuing a tradition of analysis of painting and visual 
design that celebrates the repertoire of forms and volumes 
and raises them to the status of "architecture," understood 
as the science of building. This tradition runs from 
Vitruvius to Leon Battista Alberti, from Velazquez to 
Poussin. Over the years Paolini has addressed the problem 
of knowing the nature of the materials that make up the 
"art" system; he has explored, catalogued, overturned, and 
uncovered the rationales of painting, which consist of 
concrete things like crude canvases with their front ami 


back — as in Senza titolo (I 'ntitled, 1962-63, cat. no. 180 
the figure of the artist himself: as in Monogramma 
{Monogram, 196s, cat. no. 184). Once the coordinates are 
identified, they interweave and overlap in time. The 
photograph of the artist in Diaframma 8{Diaphr 
1965, cat. no. 220) is reflected two years later 111 0^7(1967, 
cat. no. 221). Elsewhere he constructs a self-portraii from 
layerings of his works and his classical references, as in 
Delfo {Delphi, 196s). The cycle closes and opens each time- 
anew, to the point where it becomes the cycle of the lite ol 
art and the artist. 

Whereas Paolini is totally anchored to the functioning of 
images and their imaginer, for Luciano I'abro art is 
"consciousness in motion," "invention that disturbs peace 
attained, manifests dissatisfaction, presents the dilemma 
between stillness and stimulus." ' What matters for him is 
the image as attribute and episode, not as subject to be 
sustained and developed. He therefore looks for an 
incoherence of subjects that might sustain the coherence of 
the procedure. From this he derives the notion of an artist 
of many faces, an artist in continual metamorphosis, who 
does not base his identity on the unity and repetition of 
images but rather on their multiplicity, for him, the 
identity of art is a polyidentity. It manifests itself by 
continual rethinkings; it is not linear but problematic. 1 1( 
is therefore concerned with innovations with which to 
bring one's methods of seeing and sculpting up-to-date. In 
1963, the year of his first works, he presented a reflection of 
his audience in a work, Buco (Hole), the crystal surface of 
which is freely organized into mirroring parts and 
transparent parts, with a large hole in the middle. The 
dialogue between reflected sight and direct sight bears in 
mind both the idea of art as representation, or imitatio, and 
art as direct experience of the world. It is a dialectical form 
of dialogue between construction and experience, which 111 
Ruota (Wheel), 1964, becomes tension in action. It inhabits 
the space in a geometrical, design sense and stretches it 
taut with its physical elasticity. We are witness to the 
articulation of a moment that emits or sutures visual 
energy with architecture, unites the ga/c with the physical 
dimension of the body. 

This was the start of a concern with the indetermina< \ 
and latency of the making of art, which wavered between 
discontinuity and the explosion of forms. It was a rejection 
of the univocal vision that yielded a variet) of voices and 
movements, a web of artistic relam ism that ran parallel 
with the new events of history. From 1966 to 1968, in [talj 
as in the rest of the world, one witnessed the spread ol a 
"cultural revolution," the ethic al-soe aal rebellion fostered 
by students and by the minorities of the third world as well 
as the second and third sexes. They rejected tin polluted 
stability of Opulence and attempted to undermine the 
concentrated power of repression < reated In the system of 
( onsumption ami mass communk ation, w hi< h n< e ^<.\ 
passive entities in order to function. Nineteen sixtj six 

.1 year of formation (the conflagration would COm< two 
years later, in Paris. ( hu ago, Berkeley, t t< I, wt the pitX ess 
of debate had begun and would expand die an .1 of 
1 ih idem e and attack tor the antk apitalisi tori es Then was 

great hope later proved ephemeral tor a world as 
nirvana and as a pla< c of pleasure Students and 
proletarians, women and diverse beatniks and hippies, 

i> Germano Celant 

attempted to inject into the system the desire for an 
"other" world in which the brutality of armed struggles, 
from Algeria to Vietnam, would turn against the 
hegemony of power and throw it into crisis. Dogmas 
collapsed and the absolute truths of Marxism and 
Freudianism wore thin; the phallo-patriarchal system 
tottered and the blocs of ideological power, the American 
and the Soviet, were definitively besieged. There was 
widespread acknowledgement of the value of hedonistic 
and orgiastic philosophies of the sort preached by Norman 
O. Brown, Herbert Marcuse, and Wilhelm Reich, and 
protest mounted against diversions of the libido and the 
psyche. All delegations of power to political parties were 
called into question, as was the authority of the family, in 
an attempt to formulate a pleasurable praxis which, by 
eliminating the claim to universality of the models 
proposed by the ideologue and father, might manage to 
build a base on which the demand of "we want everything" 
would work." 

The years 1965 and 1966 were very important in the 
development of Italian art. The first anti-Pop art and anti- 
Minimal experiments were under way, reacting against the 
rigidity and monumental peremptoriness of primary 
structures as well as the extreme iconism of the mass 
media, from which Pop artists drew so heavily. The point 
was to reject a certain American cultural colonialism that 
had first developed in 1964 with the prize given to 
Rauschenberg at the XXXII Biennale and to establish 
Italy's own artistic difference, deep-rooted in the history of 
images, in accordance with a critical and ironic, oneiric and 
personal vision that had nothing in common with mass 
culture and its various apparati. 

Some artists, like Pistoletto and Pino Pascali, realizing 
the danger of monolithicism and repetititive rigidity 
inherent in the standardization and mass production of Pop 
and Minimal painting and sculpture, at first sought a way 
out in the sensory and fantastic. They produced works 
like Pistoletto's Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects) series (see 
cat. nos. 194—196), and Pascali's Armi (Arms) series (see cat. 
nos. 187—89) whose iconographic and scalar impact, 
combined with the flexibility and energy inherent in the 
materials, invited visual experiment to plunge into a vortex 
of free and contradictory images in which what mattered 
was making a spectacle of one's own inner feelings and 
thoughts. These inner movements might range from play 
to dream, producing fake cannons and machine guns, 
antimilitarist "toys" — like the Cannone "Bella Ciao" ("Bella 
Ciao" Cannon, 1965, cat. no. 189), made of discarded car 
parts, pipes, radiators, and barrels — that mocked the wars 
being fought at the time, both in Vietnam and in the art 
world;" or they might lead to the construction of oneiric 
projections on a three-dimensional scale, as with Pistoletto, 
who replaced the multiplicity of the mirroring surface with 
the multiplicity of his own infinite imagining. His Scultura 
lignea (Wood Sculpture, 1965-66, cat. no. 193), Sfera cli 
giornali (Mappamondo) (Oggetti in meno) (Sphere of 
Newspapers {Globe} {Minus Objects}, 1966-68, cat. no. 195), 
and Rosa bruciata (Oggetti in meno) (Burnt Rose (Minus 
Objects}, 1965, cat. no. 196) are projections of dream and 
memory that work on the contrasted coherence or 
incoherence of various images and underscore the 
importance of a multiple creative identity: that of the artist 

16 Art 

who wants not to repeat oneself but to create continuously, 
who produces art to free oneself and to get rid of one's ideas 
and images, the "minus objects." 

The departure from linearity in favor of multiplicity 
subjects art to a process of continuous transformation, 
destruction, and reconstruction. A pantheistic vision 
emerges capable of bringing any natural, animal, or 
artificial element into the language of art. The aesthetic 
spans all the materials of every physical and conceptual 
realm, resulting in a linguistic polydimensionality within 
which operates the highest possible degree of fluidity and 
transitoriness. In this context Arte Povera began to take 
shape, with its desire to move from a creation of art no 
longer based on a phenomenal or conceptual minimum of 
extension and calculation but rather on the fullness and 
fluidity, the elasticity and energetic completeness of the 
materials. These range from fire, earth, animals, stones, 
and trees to sulfur, gold, and rags. We have left 
Minimalism and entered the contemporary baroque. With 
Arte Povera, the immense subtlety of things and the senses 
unfolds: architecture and history, chemical reactions and 
natural events. It is art premised on the wish to remain, at 
all costs, on a direct line with reality. 

The point is to question every level of existence, not only 
color and line, canvas and form, volume and space, but to 
operate in harmony and a state of tension with the enigma 
of beings and the elements, letting go of all linguistic 
injunctions in order to move freely through all realms, 
from sea to meadow, ice to air, intimate to social, symbolic 
to historical, chemical to alchemical. Art thus moves 
beyond the limitations of the consensus in favor of this or 
that genre and is tranformed into an aesthetic totality that 
knows no limits. Among the artists taking part in this 
heady experiment were those emerging from the 
experiences of the early 1960s: Fabro, Kounellis, Mario 
Merz, Marisa Merz, Paolini, Pascali, and Pistoletto, as well 
as the younger artists Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, 
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Giuseppe Penone, Emilio Prini, and 
Gilberto Zorio. 

The reasons for this pantheism were many and varied. 
First of all there was an interest in the natural and physical 
world, which art had lost sight of over the course of time as 
it came closer and closer to technology. This sense of loss 
was offset by the use of primary materials — such as fire in 
Kounellis's Senza titolo {Untitled, 1967, cat. no. 212) — or the 
invocation of peasant tradition and its custom of grafting 
trees, with the variant of the artist's own body being part 
of the graft — as in Penone's Ualbero continuerd a en seen 
tranne che in questo punto ('The tree will keep growing except at 
this point, 1968). Moreover, the rejection of the notion of art 
as immobile and the embracing of an evolutionary 
perspective of its development as an image and object in 
motion was of great importance in emphasizing the notion 
of the work's vitality and survivability. The work docs not 
disappear in a closed and rigid intellectual and conceptual 
structure but provides an existence. It must be assisted and 
nourished with new food, such as salad in Anselmo's 
Struttura che mangia I'insalata {Structure That Eats SjLtd, 
1968, cat. no. 204); or it may be transformed, in an 
energetic process that makes the image self-generate, in 
Tenda (Tent, 1967, cat. no. 230), by Zorio. Elsewhere it is the 
need to bear witness to a sublimity deriving from the 

absoluteness of a material like ice, whic h conns to 
underscore the- artistic lifestyle- in Calzolari 's I nflautodolct 
perfarmi monan {A Dulcet Flute for Mi to PL/), 1968, cat. 
no. 208). What is at stake- is the- transmittal ot the 
pulsation oi lite- with respect to the representation ol art 
The emergence- ot the- indeterminate, polys ignifi< ant 
condition ot Arte Povera also derives from the- imitations 
brought about by a linguistic interchangeabilit) rooted 
both in Informalc's exaltation of materials and in the 
dialectical mingling of ima^c- and reality, figure- ami art 
history, everyday icon and painting, gesture and nature-. 
tradition and present day, private and public, developed In 
such artists as Fabro, Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, 
Paolini, and Pistoletto. 

This movement triggered a profound transformation, 
which in 1966-67 took the shape- ot encounters ami c lashes 
of images and cultures. The combination ot beauty and 
tactility, classical and ephemeral, eternal and transitory, 
each reflected mutually in Pistolettos Venen degli Uracci 
(Venus of the Rags, 1967, cat. no. 228), revealing the 
magnetism between opposites. A similar dialogue was 
established by Mario Merz between industrial energ) and 
human energy, logic and action, when he put the inside ot 
his own raincoat in contact with the flash ot a fluorescent 
light in Impermeabile {Raincoat, 1967, cat. no. 2.16). 
Elsewhere he establishes a relationship between thought 
and political nomadism, between the statement ot General 
Giap and the igloo, in Igloo di (Tup. Sc // nemico si concentra 
perde terreno se si dispt rdt jh rdi forza {Giap Igloo. If the Enemy 
Masses His Forces He Loses Ground: T I L Scattt rs Ih Loses 
Strength, 1968, cat. no. 214). 

The dialectic between nature and industry, southern ami 
northern, desert and factory, between natural ami art 1 tic lal 
color, represented in the clash between cacti ami metal 
containers running through one another in Senza titolo 
(I '//titled, 1967, cat. no. 213), is one way Kounellis calls 
attention to the need to keep different cultures together 
and to maintain a common language-, however elistant the 
various hemispheres of its provenance-, in the- tacc ot the 
destructive impact ot mass production. For Riscali 
coexistence occurs between play ami primitive history, true 
and false, between nature and artificiality. I lis concern tor 
nature is expressed in substances like water ami earth, 
which he reconstructs in theatrical fashion in j6 
quadrati di mart {Thirty-six Squart Metet V , 1967). In 
Ponte {Bridge, [968, eat. no. 224) he- uses steel wool in a 
search for the- fantastic world ot the- jungle, a umw rs< ot 
adventures staged through the- utilization ot industrial 

The conflict between private and public, inner worlds 
and soc ial participation, with the 1 on« omit ant pressure on 
the individual, is the- subject of the- work ot Marisa H 
The Altalena per Bea < S/. ing /<>>■ Bea, [968), tor example, is a 
work based on individual identity, the personal world ot 
her own body, and her daughter Beatrice. It is an irregular. 
anomalous structure in which plaj can becom< iLn^uniis 
and love can turn into tension ami risk a continuous, 
unsundered problematic between umv iousness ot sell and 
ot the other, of the term nine in regard to the mas ( uhm 
the- individual in regard to society. The new relationship 
between an and c \iste m c dissolves historx into sinj 

realms, linguistii ami . ultural territories. It the e il'Ihc c nth 

1 (. , < • ..nin ( tt. m: 

century accustomed humanity to think of art as a special 
entity in isolation from other things, the baroque effect of 
the years 1967 — 68 affirmed the fascination of the 
coexistence among things and languages. The notion of a 
field open to all conditions and coexistences was 
introduced. Paolini's Averroe (Averroes, 1967, cat. no. 222) is 
based on an accumulation of flags, of linguistic identities, 
brought together to create a series of crosswise connections 
and interrelations, so that differences of every sort collapse. 
Finally there are Fabro's transitions and shirtings of the 
image, an image no longer bent to the rhetoric of coherence 
but to the constitution of a method. He often cites Francis 
Bacon to show that the artist must always be on guard not 
to repeat himself, not to settle into a codified, recognizable 
personality, but rather to overturn every manner of iconic 
stereotype, as in Italia appesa {Italy Hanging, 196-/) and the 
Piedi (Foot) series (see cat. nos. 209, 210) 

The Arte Povera group brought about a gradual 
emancipation of art from the monolithic, reductive, and 
minimal object, as well as from univocal, unidirectional 
concerns: "my generation deserves recognition," asserts 
Fabro, "for having taken many immediately usable 
liberties: self-indulgence, hyperbole, digression, 
madness . . . rejuvenating the classical rhetorics with 
undeniable qualities."'" For this reason 1968 was as much 
the end of an era as the beginning of another. With all 
these artists taken together, an artistic lexicon appeared 
on the horizon, open to the unleashing of every sort of 
force: physical and mental, dramatic and behavioral, 
natural and artificial. This is the final result of the 
course of Italian art from 1943 to 1968, developed 
"in total freedom." 

18 Art 

i. This term, which suggests an attempt to go-beyond Right and Lett 
to rind a third solution to political and cultural conflicts, is drawn 
from Norberto Bobbio, Destra e sinistra (Right and Left. Rome: 
Donzelli, 1994). 

2. The first text on "realism" was dratted in 1943, but it remained 
clandestine. It was later published in 1946 as "Realismo e poesia" in 
the first issue of the review // '4$ (1945). See Giorgio de Marchis, "Larte 
in Italia dopo la seconda guerra mondiale," in Storia dell' Arte Italiana 
(History of Italian Art. Turin: Einaudi, 1982); and Luciano Caramel, 
ed.. Arte in Italia 194s- 1960 (Art in Italy 1945- 1960. Milan: Vita e 
Pensiero, 1994). 

3. Roger Garaudy, "Non esiste un estetica del partito comunista," // 
politecnico (Polytechnic), Milan, September 1946, pp. 33-34. 

4. Particularly notorious was the uproar caused in 1948 when the PCI 
Secretary Palmiro Togliatti, using the pen name Roderigo di Castigli, 
panned a contemporary art exhibit held in October of that year at the 
Alleanza della Cultura. The review provoked an angry though 
measured and timorous response in a letter signed by militant artists 
and critics within the party itself, including Consagra, Nino 
Franchina, Guttuso, Leoncillo, and Turcato. 

5. Sergio Polano, Mostrare (Exhibiting. Milan: Lybra Immagine, 1988). 

6. Augusto Graziani, "Mercato e relazioni internazionali," in Italia 
Contemporanea 194s— 197s (Contemporary Italy 1945 — 1975. Turin: 
Einaudi), pp. 307—336. 

7. Mino Guerrini, "Perche la pittura," Forma 1 (Form 1), Rome, April 


8. In 1949 Fontana, at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, created a 
"black environment" wherein the spectator upon entering saw 
hanging spatial forms illuminated by black light, produced by a Wood 
lamp. His interest in displaying his art environmentally and 
architecturally led him to adorn the great entrance staircase of Milan's 
IX Trienniale in 1951 with an arabesque of light, suspended from the 
ceiling and consisting of fluorescent tubes arranged along a linear 
pathway over one hundred meters long. For his relations with 
Californian Environmental Art and New \fork Minimalism, see 
Germano Celant, Arte Ambiente, dal futurismo alia body art 
(Environment Art, from Futurism to Body Art. Milan: Electa, 1977). 

9. Mario Ballocco, "Origine," A.Z. arte d'oggi (A.Z. art of today), 
Milan, no. 6, November 6, 1950. 

10. Germano Celant, Roma —New York 1948— 1964, exhibition catalogue 
(Milan: Charta, 1994). 

11. In Italy, Turin was the city most open to accepting and 
perpetuating the unilateral relationship with French art. In 1951 a 
series of Italy— France shows were curated by Luigi Carluccio, while 
Michel Tapie was consultant at the Centre of Aesthetic Research, 
introducing Jean Fautrier and the Japanese Gutai group to an Italian 
public. The other principal cities, Rome and Milan, were more 
oriented towatd American and northern European culture. Contacts 
were made with various dealers and museums. Leo Castelli and Ileana 
Sonnabend looked to Rome, whereas Catherine Viviano began 
showing Afro and Birolli in New \brk. Milan, through Lucio Fontana 
and the MAC gtoup, established the first contacts with Dutch, Swiss, 
and German artists ranging from the COBRA group to Max Bill. See 
Ida Gianelli, ed., Un'avventura internazionale, Torino l le Art/ 1950 — 1970 
(An international adventure. Turin and the arts, 1950 — 1970. Milan: 
Charta, 1993); Roma '60, exhibition catalogue (Rome: Palazzo 
Esposizioni, 1992); and Guido Ballo, La Linea dell'arti italiana (The 
direction of Italian art. Rome: Mediterranee, 1964). 

12. Serge Guilbaut, Hon New York Sink tin idea 0/ Modern Art 
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983). 

13. Serge Guilbaut, ed.. Reconstructing Modernism (Cambridge: MIT 
Press, 1990). 

4. For Rauschenberg's linguistic debt to Burn, see Celant, Romi Nt u 
York 1948- 1964, pp. 19-23. 

15. Maurizio Calvesi, Alberto Burn (Milan, 1977). 

16. The practice of intensifying material, based on unleashing pure 
energies, is typical of a Catholic culture that aspires to sic ularity by 
removing spirituality while in tact confirming it everywhere: m sacks, 
in artist's shit (Piero Manzoni), and in natural materials such as fire, 
cacti, stones in the work of such artists as Jannis Kounellis and 
Giovanni Anselmo. See Germano Celant, Alberto Burr/, text for RAI 
broadcast, Rome, July 7, 1984, printed in L'arte italiana (Italian art. 
Milan: Feltrmelli, 1988). 

17. Umberto Boccioni, Pittura e tcultura futuristi (Dinamismo pla 

(Futurist painting ami sculpture [plastii dynamism]. Milan. 1914' 

18. Bernard Blisten, ed., Lmm Fontana (Pans Mus< 1 National d'Ari 
Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1987). 

19. Germano Celant, "Fontana nomade," in Esperienze dell'astratth 
italiano (Experiences in Italian abstrat non), exhibition 1 atalogue 
(Turin: Galleria Notizie, 1968). 

20. Germano Celant, Emilio Vedova (Milan: Electa, [984) 
zi. A.M. Hammacher, Fausto Melotti (Milan Electa, 19 •■>). 

22. Lawrence Alloway, Ettort Colla: Iron Sculpturt (Rome, i960). 

23. Augusta Monfenni, ed., Giulio Turcato (Rome: ( ralleria Nazionale 
d'Arte Moderna, 1987). 

24. Adachiara Zevi, Piero Dora to l Ravenna: Essegi, 1985). 

25. Vanna Bramann, (aria Accardi (Ravenna: Essegi, [9J 

26. Gillo Dorfles, Le oscillazioni del gusto (The oscillations ol tast* 
Milan: Lerici, 1958). 

2-. Richard Serra dedicated a large work. l.<> Savio, to the Roman 
artist, an indirect homage to his experiments in the- interpenetration 
of art and architecture, articulation and volume. 

28. Ernesto Galli della Loggia, "Ideologic classi e costume," in Italia 
Contemporanea, 1945-197$, p- 419. 

29. Germano Celant, "Piero Manzoni, un artista del presente," in 
Manzoni, exhibition catalogue (Paris: Musee d'Art de la Villi de Pins. 

30. Achille Bonito Oliva, Tano Festa (Rome: Ex Birreria Peroni, 1988). 

31. Germano Celant, Pistoletto (Milan: Fabbri, 1990). 

32. Paul Virilio, L'espact critique (The critical space- Fans: ( hristian 
Bourgois, 1984), p. 14. 

33. Vittorio Sgarbi, Domenico Gnoli (Milan: Rice 1, 1985). 

34. Luciano Fabro, "Lettere ai Germani," in Aufhamger (Cologne: 
Kcinig, 1983). 

35. Germano Celant, "Pour une identite italienne," in Identite italiennt 
(Italian identity. Paris: Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre- 
Georges Pompidou, 1981). 

36. Vittorio Rubiu, Pino Pascali (Rome: Atnco. [976) 

37. Luciano Fabro, La natura (Nature), exhibition catalogue (Essen: 
Museum Folkwang, 1981). 

i>) Germano Celant 

Painting and Beyond: 
Recovery and 
Regeneration, 1943- 1952 

Mania E. Vetrocq 

When Allied forces invaded the islands of Pantelleria and 
Lampedusa in June 1943, Italy entered a protracted season 
of occupation. Nearly two years would pass before the 
conclusion of hostilities. Ahead lay the worst deprivations 
and atrocities as well as the first successes of the anti- 
fascist coalitions, coalitions whose fragile unity would 
unravel in the postwar jockeying for power. There were at 
least two Italics by the close of 1943, and possibly five: the 
territories controlled by the two occupying armies, Allied 
in the South and German in the North; their respective 
puppets, the Kingdom of the South and Benito Mussolini's 
Republic of Salo; and the Comitato di Liberazione 
Nazionale per l'Alta Italia (National Committee for the 
Liberation of Upper Italy), the coordinating umbrella of the 
Resistance. When the war finally ended in the North in 
April 1945, the Resistance had grown to well over 100,000, 
and in the process had offered the hungry country a 
necessary ration of heroism and moral certainty. After 
twenty years of Fascist duplicity and betrayal, good and 
evil had become clear once again. It was that clarity that 
united priest with Communist — and damned collaborator 
with Nazi — in Roberto Rossellini's paradigmatic 
Resistance story, Roma cittd aperta (Rome open city, 1945; 
released in English as Open City), whose filming began in 
the spring of 1944 while German forces still lingered in the 
city. From the South came a different picture. Curzio 
Malaparte's book La pelle (The skin, 1949), a bitter, first- 
person account of Neapolitan life under Allied 
"protection," describes the corruption of a city neither free 
nor conquered, a city of prostitutes, shoeshine boys, 
hucksters, and black marketeers. With ill-concealed envy, 
Malaparte, a former Fascist, contrasted the degradation of 
Neapolitans struggling to stay alive with the virtue of 
those in the North still fighting to escape death. Yet for 
most Italians the truth of those years lay somewhere, 
everywhere, in between. 

History finds just as many truths for the wartime 
experiences of Italian artists, as can be seen by taking "core 
samples" of 1943 from the lives of three who would number 
among the most important protagonists of the postwar 
period: Emilio Vedova, Alberto Burri, and Lucio Fontana. 
The year 1943 found the young and largely self-trained 
Vedova in the center of the paradox that was art under 
Fascism. That year his work was included in the 
government-sponsored Quadriennale d'Arte Nazionale in 
Rome and was also the last to be exhibited by the dissident 
Corrente group before its gallery in Milan was raided by 
the national security police.' After the Germans occupied 
Northern Italy in September, Vedova joined the Resistance; 
he returned to his native Venice at the end of the war. 
Burri, who was not yet an artist in 1943, was taken prisoner 
while serving as a physician with the Italian army in 
Tunisia. He began to paint while detained in a Texas 
prisoner-of-war camp (see fig. 1) and renounced medicine 
for his new vocation upon repatriation to Rome in 1946. 
Fontana, academically trained and already a mature artist 
who worked in both figurative and nonfigurative modes, 
was in the middle of a self-imposed Argentinian exile in 
1943. He would return to Milan four years later as the 
prophet of a radical movement that would challenge 
prevailing assumptions about the nature of art itself. 

In the course of the decade 1943-52 Italy's artists and 

20 Art 

critics would begin the job of reviving the country's visual 
culture, a task parallel to, if not at the very heart of, the 
wider project of social and political reconstruction.' At 
various moments different antinomies would be advanced 
as the defining issue: abstraction versus realism, creative 
autonomy versus collective responsibility, national versus 
international culture. Each set of choices, however, 
represented only a single aspect of a difficult process of self- 
definition. The decade began with the engagement of 
Italian artists in a "local" struggle to overcome the effects 
of twenty years of Fascist cultural dogma. The regime had 
not crushed artistic inquiry so much as it had denatured 
and warped it with a poisonous mixture of nationalistic 
bombast and exasperated tolerance. Not surprisingly, the 
first impulse of most Italian artists was to embrace the 
surviving remnants of the international avant-garde that 
had been denigrated under Fascism's campaign of cultural 
autarchy. The decade ended with Italian artists, like their 
European and American counterparts, acknowledging the 
exhaustion of prewar Modernism and formulating the 
terms of a new art. In the first rounds of this contest the 
privileged medium was painting, but the solutions that 
emerged from the fray eventually would subvert painting's 
preeminence and open up a limitless field of materials and 
forms to creative investigation. 

In 1943 there already were anticipations of the complex 
mood of solemnity and euphoria that would seize so many 
artists and intellectuals at the end of the war. That 
summer two veterans of Corrente, the painters Ernesto 
Treccani and Ennio Morlotti, collaborated on the Primo 
manifesto di pittori e satltori (First manifesto of painters and 
sculptors)/ Here the rhetoric of art and resistance 
conjoined in a militant rejection of irony, indecision, 
melancholy, indifference, pessimism, aestheticism — in 
sum, any condition of consciousness that would impede 
action, as well as any definition of art as being other than a 
complete and revolutionary engagement in life. The 
painters of the preceding generation, whether nonobjective 
"concrete" artists or practitioners of the archaizing 
tendencies of the Novecento movement, were condemned 
for having abandoned lived experience. The expressionism 
so recently embraced by the Corrente painters themselves 
as an authentic counter to the celebratory falsehoods of 
Fascist art now was castigated for the sins of inferiority and 
isolation, while Pablo Picasso, in the first of many such 
endorsements, was praised for having overcome the cult of 
personality to express the anti-Fascist struggle of an entire 
generation. At the start of 1946, in an essay named for 
Picasso's Guernica, a jubilant, almost feverish Morlotti 
heralded the beginning of a new moral era as the last 
"individual" lay buried beneath the ruins of the war and 
painting prepared to assume its collective and social 
responsibilities.' At issue was more than just repudiating 
the moribund academicism, bloated classicism, and 
provincial nostalgia of the art favored by the fallen regime. 
It was also necessary to overcome the disengagement born 
of Crocean dealism, which had held culture separate from 
politics and had allowed inaction to pass for anti-l'asc ism. 
For this a different and less blatant culpability needed to 
be acknowledged, as is clear from the acerbic recollection 
of the art historian Giulio Carlo Argan: 


\ .■■'", rto Burti, Texas. 194$. Oil on 
canvas, 4- x 60. f t m. Tt > ■ 
Collection, Rome. 

Renato Biroli, Disegno della 
resistenza, da "Italia 1944 (Drawing 
of the Resistant e, from Italy 194 1 
11)44. Ink on paper, 16 x 21 / cm. Birolli 
Collection, Mi Lin. 

' \ 

Fascism fell, but after a war that teas ///orally and materially 
disastrous; the ruin of things and of ideals. . . . The moral 
damage was no less than the material damage: monuments 
destroyed, cities devastated, masterpieces stolen, and within a 
desolate sense of emptiness. Italy was objectively guilty: for the 
most part intellectuals had succeeded in preserving their dignity 
as scholars, but they could not or did not know how to impose 
their cultural authority on a regime that was hostile to culture. 
They yielded to force. The immunity of culture was an illusion. 6 

For the most part, however, it was elation mixed with a 
sense of rectitude, not self-recrimination, that propelled 
the initial floodtide of exhibitions, manifestos, and artists' 
organizations. Galleries throughout the country exhibited 
works commemorating hardships so recently endured. 
Celebrated among these were Vedova's drawings of life 
among the partisans; Renato Birolli's album of drawings 
that came to be called Italia 1944 (Italy 1944), which 
chronicled the suffering in Lombardy during the German 
occupation (see fig. 2); and Renato Guttuso's tribute to the 
victims of the Ardeatine caves massacre, the drawings 
published as Gott mit Uns (God with us, cat. no. 332), so 
named for the motto inscribed on the holsters of the 
German executioners. Late in the summer of 1944 the once- 
clandestine Communist paper L'unita. (Unity) sponsored 
the exhibition L'arte contro la barbarie (Art against 
barbarism). Rome's painters and sculptors took part in a 
show of solidarity and belated defiance. The occasion also 
elicited some early attacks in the Communist press on the 
"evasive" art of Giorgio Morandi and other "intimists," and 
an early endorsement of "appropriate" national and popular 
content. It was a presage of the intolerance that, a few years 
later, would trap the PCI (Partito Comunista 
Italiano/Italian Communist Party) into a blanket 
condemnation of abstraction. 7 

Behind the first efforts of intellectuals to shape a new 
Italian culture, one senses the sheer pleasure of open 
communication after the double-talk and suppression of 
the Fascist era and the Occupation. The months that 
spanned the end of 1945 and the beginning of 1946 saw 
three significant new journals of ideas launched in Milan: 
II politecnico (Polytechnic), Numero (Number), and // '45 
(1945). Manifestos poured from studios and cafes as artists 
and writers proclaimed their determination to reform art, 
to transcend superficial differences of style, and to sustain a 
moral consensus. In March 1946 Numero published the 
Manifesto del realisi/io (Manifesto of realism), a statement 
more familiarly known by the name Oltre Guernica (Beyond 
Guernica). The ten signatories. (Giuseppe Ajmone, Rinaldo 
Bergolli, Egidio Bonfante, Gianni Dova, Morlotti, 
Giovanni Paganini, Cesare Peverelli, Vittorio Tavernari, 
Gianni Testori, Vedova) declared painting and sculpting to 
be acts of participation in the total contemporary human 
reality. With perhaps more fervor than intelligibility they 
proclaimed, "Realism therefore does not mean naturalism 
or verism or expressionism, but rather the concretized 
reality of one person, when this participates in, coincides 
with, and is equivalent to the reality of others; when it 
becomes, in short, a common measurement of reality 
itself." 8 

As a result of a 1945 meeting in Venice came the 1946 
founding manifesto of the Nuovo Secessione Artistica 

Italiana, soon to be renamed the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti in 
an exchange of the nomenclature of dissent for that of 
political activism. The eleven who signed (Birolli, Bruno 
Cassinari, Guttuso, Carlo Levi, Leoncillo Leonardi [see cat. 
nos. 16, 17], Morlotti, Armando Pizzinato, Giuseppe 
Santomaso [see fig 3}, Giulio Turcato [see cat. nos. 23, 24}, 
Vedova, Alberto Viani) announced their intention to guide 
their "only apparently contrasting" styles toward a future 
and as yet unrecognizable synthesis based on a 
fundamental moral necessity.'' More partisan was the 
manifesto of the Forma group, published in Rome in 
March 1947 (see cat. no. 336), in which eight artists (Carla 
Accardi, Ugo Attardi, Pietro Consagra, Piero Dorazio, 
Mino Guerrini, Achille Perilli, Antonio Sanfilippo, Turcato) 
proclaimed themselves "formalists and Marxists." In 
response to the growing schism within the Left between 
proponents of a legible popular art and proponents of 
abstraction, these artists dismissed realism as exhausted 
and conformist, and committed their efforts to a 
revolutionary, if not altogether definable, abstraction: "we 
are interested in the form of the lemon, and not the 
lemon." No less significant than their choice of an abstract 
visual language was their characterization of the historical 
moment in which that choice was made: "The need to 
bring Italian art to the level of the current European 
language forces us to take a clear-cut position against every 
silly and biased nationalist ambition and against the 
gossipy and useless province that present-day Italian 
culture is today." 10 

The Forma group's condemnation was not directed solely 
at unrepentant practitioners of the conservative figural 
styles that had found favor with the fallen regime. Even the 
ostensibly progressive artists of Oltre Guernica were 
reprimanded for having reduced the possibilities of Cubism 
to "Picasso explained to the masses" and for having 
compromised the "Europeanness" of their paintings with a 
homegrown Lombard expressionism." Nor were the Roman 
abstractionists alone in setting the issue of style squarely 
within the larger problem of Italy's relationship to 
European Modernism. Many artists and writers decried an 
Italy that had been all but absent from the history of 
Modern art — what Argan had called the "incontestable 
backwardness of Italian painting" in an essay of 1946. ,2 The 
exceptions to the rule of Italian irrelevance, Futurism and 
Metaphysical art, were dismissed as isolated adjustments to 
the general French piloting of the avant-garde, while 
Futurism seemed fatally dishonored by its association with 
the belligerent posturing of Mussolini's regime. Moreover, 
Fascist cultural autarchy had left behind a culture with 
only fragmentary knowledge of what had been 
accomplished beyond Italy's borders. 

To combat the aftereffects of cultural nationalism and its 
emphasis on italianita (Italianness), many postwar 
intellectuals embraced the concept of europeismo 
(Europeanism), which was perceived as a rational, 
progressive, humanistic, and international culture to which 
Italy sought admittance through reeducation. For many the 
first lessons were taught by the art historian Lionello 
Venturi." After returning from exile in the United States, 
Venturi mounted an exhibition of color reproductions of 
French art from Impressionism to the present at Rome's 
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in 1946. In the words of 

22 An 

Dorazio, "This exhibition was the saving grace for modern 
art in Italy because it was visited and discussed by all the 
artists from Palermo to Milan and presented works and 
formal problems whose very existence no one had ever 
suspected."' 4 Other painters — Birolli, Consagra, Morlotti, 
Sanhlippo, and Turcato among them — made their way to 
Paris to learn at the source. 

Of course there lurked a fateful incongruity between 
committing to aggiornamento, the process of catching up, as 
a means of rejoining European culture and striving to 
make an independent and wholly original contribution to 
that culture. Nothing would demonstrate the danger of 
overdependence more than the zealous "picassism" that 
gripped so many painters in the first years after the war. 
The self-conscious and angular geometry of post-Cubism 
overtook the canvases of Guttuso, Morlotti (see fig. 4, 
Pizzinato, and Vedova, while Birolli and Cassinari sought 
to capture the perfume of Picasso's Antibes painting in 
Mediterranean idylls of their own (see fig. 5). Morlotti later 
recalled, "Picassism was a curse, because I couldn't tear it 
off my back. I felt its weak sides, but I couldn't see 
anything other than this imprimatur: Picasso."' 

At the time only a handful of critics raised an alarm at 
the ignorance and self-loathing that underlay both the 
wholesale disparagement of early Modernist efforts in Italy 
and the boundless francophilia of the young. The art 
historian Cesare Brandi dismissed earopehmo as a fiction 
that masked the suffocating influence of the School of 
Paris. He argued that the fear of provincialism combined 
with a poorly understood Marxism was blinding young 
artists to what had been the originality of Futurism and 
Metaphysical art."' In 1946 Giuseppe Marchiori published 
Pittura mocUrna italiana (Modern Italian painting), a brief 
illustrated history of twentieth-century Italian painting, in 
which he sought to reweave the fabric of recent Italian 
painting and thus minimize the rupture of the Fascist era.'" 
Marchiori, who contributed substantially to the founding 
ideas of the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, condemned the 
academicism of the acolytes of Picasso and singled out 
Vedova among the newest painters, discerning in the young 
Venetian a passionate and "medieval" temperament that 
had been able to penetrate beyond the formalism of 
Picasso's art to its essential brutality. 

The ideas and issues that would define the progressive 
edge of postwar art in Italy began to sharpen in the years 
1947—49, although their full import was temporarily 
obscured by the eruption of an acrimonious debate about 
realism and abstract art. The mounting extremism of the 
Cold War era altered the moral landscape for Italian artists, 
undermining the spirit of unity and forcing artists on the 
Left to choose between observing the proscription against 
abstraction promulgated by the Communist party and 
exercising the creative autonomy that the end of Fascism 
had seemed to promise. Even Picasso fell from grace before 
the party's insistence on the obligation of the artist to 
immerse himself in subjects drawn from the immediate 
social reality and to communicate in a language 
comprehensible to all. It might be said that Italy's postwar 
age of innocence, marked by widespread political and 
artistic faith in the healing power of coalitions, ended in 
1948. The April elections gave a clear mandate to the 
Center-Right, the DC (Democrazia Cnstiana Christian 

■ " 

/ix 1 Giuseppi Santomaso, 
Finescra a. > 1 W indow \>> 1/ 1947. 
0//-///,.///;,/.. on \ 7$ rift, fiappeliin 
Collection, Italy. 

Ennio Murium La ret< 1 The 

Nl ' I IPSO U Oil 0H 

m. Cumani Collection, Milan. 

Bruno ( assinari, IYs< atori del 
Porto 1I1 Antibes | Fishermen <>i the 
Fori <>l Antibes •. 1949 Oil on 
-n \ qo i m. Istituti Artiitt 
Culturali, Cittetdi For/l. 

'• \ 

Democratic party), which already had maneuvered the Left 
out of the government and whose electoral drive had been 
propelled by unstinting assistance from the Catholic 
Church and the United States State Department. Safely 
within the Western alliance the country now was eligible 
for Marshall Plan aid and membership in NATO." 

In the world of art there was perhaps no more significant 
indication of Italy's resumption of European citizenship 
than the resurrection or the Venice Biennale in the summer 
of 1948. Boasting an encyclopedic survey of early French 
avant-garde masters, an exhibition of painters who had 
been banned as "degenerate" by the Nazis, and Peggy 
Guggenheim's collection of Surrealist and abstract art, the 
new Biennale aimed to demonstrate the openness of culture 
in post-Fascist Italy and to continue the education of a 
domestic audience that only two years before had 
contented itself with Venturis color reproductions. Toward 
contemporary Italian art the Biennale maintained a studied 
position of cautious liberalism and allowed the Fronte 
Nuovo delle Arti to exhibit as a group, thus endorsing the 
artists' contention that ethical unity superseded aesthetic 
diversity. It proved a futile gesture, as the circumstances 
surrounding a notorious exhibition later that year would 
prove. During the fall, several Fronte members, realist and 
abstract painters, appeared in a show that was mounted in 
Bologna by the Communist-sponsored Alleanza della 
Cultura (Alliance of Culture). The event was dedicated to 
demonstrating the heterogeneity and vitality of 
contemporary Italian art. When the PCI chief Palmiro 
Togliatti unleashed a torrent of invective against the 
incomprehensibility and sheer ugliness of the exhibition's 
abstract art, fourteen party members — including Fronte 
adherents Guttuso, Leoncillo, and Turcato — wrote a letter 
of protest, contending that an Italian art committed to 
social struggle could be improved by belatedly practicing 
the European lessons of avant-garde dissidence. The PCI 
hierarchy remained unmoved, and the deepening rift led to 
the disintegration of the Fronte within a year."' 

The intransigence of Togliatti and his circle served to 
diminish the PCI's influence among artists, although it 
succeeded in imposing a distorted and unproductive 
polarity on much of the period's critical discussion. Even 
Guttuso, the most highly respected yet least typical and 
obedient among Communist figurative painters (see fig. 6, 
cat. nos. 14, 15), publicly sustained the party's position. At a 
conference occasioned by the Alleanza exhibition, he 
parroted the official line that the single significant choice 
facing Italy's painters was between a realist or abstract 
style. But no less consequential was the choice of which 
abstract style to practice. The wholly nonfigurative and 
essentially geometric, or "concrete," art of the Concretisti, 
which had been centered in Milan and Como during the 
1930s, offered another model for postwar painting that 
rivaled post-Cubism's claim to being a progressive and 
"European" prescription for artistic renewal at home. That 
( laim was embodied in an international exhibition of 
Concrete Art held at Milan's Palazzo Reale at the 
beginning of 1947, which featured Italian artists Gillo 
Dorfles, Osvaldo Licini, Bruno Munari, Manlio Rho, and 
Luigi Veronesi in the company of Jean Arp, Max Bill, Jean 
1 [erbin, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Sophie Taueber-Arp, 
( reorges Vantongerloo, and other international figures." At 

the end of 1948 Dorfles (see fig. 7), Gianni Monnet, Munari, 
and Atanasio Soldati (see fig. 8) formally founded the MAC 
(Movimento d'Arte Concreta). :: Their first exhibition 
included Forma members Dorazio, Guerrini, and Perilli, 
three Roman colleagues with whom the Milanese group 
shared the rejection of referential impurities in art but not 
the commitment of art to the cause of social and political 
renewal, an extra-artistic issue from which the Concretisti 
kept a determined distance. 

The chilly remoteness of Concrete Art ultimately would 
limit its viability as the language of Italian regeneration. To 
their credit Italy's nonfigurative artists of the 1930s had 
maintained a steady call for rationalism, internationalism, 
and resistance to the accommodating revivalist styles that 
had flattered the pretensions of Fascist authority. But in 
the turbulent postwar climate, in a world transformed by 
Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the recourse of Concrete artists 
to the eternal language of geometry could seem no less 
anachronistic than Fascist classicism had been. Indeed the 
majority of the avenues ardently investigated and defended 
by so many Italian painters during 1947-49 — realist, 
expressionist, post-Cubist, Concrete — were rooted in the 
artistic experiences of prewar Europe. It was at precisely 
this point that Vedova, Burri, and Fontana put aside the 
limited goal of aggiornamento and began to set forth the 
initial technical breakthroughs and theoretical insights 
that would shape Italian art for the next decade and 
beyond. Their achievements were all the more remarkable 
for the fact that, to one degree or another, each of the three 
vindicated something of the original project of Italian 
Futurism. Vedova did so by exploring the inherent 
dynamism of the abstract gesture and by reanimating the 
precept that the imperative of contemporaneity in art 
inevitably led the artist to an oppositional position; Burri 
by contaminating the pure painted surface with flagrantly 
non-art materials; and Fontana by rejecting easel painting 
and pedestal sculpture (see cat. nos. 8—10) altogether, by 
granting technology preeminence over nature and tradition 
as the source of current artistic truth, and by outlining 
visionary programs in manifestos before he had discovered 
the physical means for their realization. 

During 1947 and 1948 Vedova rekindled the painterly fire 
of his work after a cool post-Cubist interlude in 1946. From 
the very beginning in the 1930s his art had evinced a 
brooding resonance and a scenographic extravagance, both 
of which were closer in spirit to the work of his historical 
Venetian compatriots Tintoretto and Piranesi than to that 
of his contemporary associates in Corrente, who favored a 
more primitivizing, Van Gogh— inflected expressionism. 
The youthful melodrama and sometimes brutal handling of 
his early renderings of the human figure and architectural 
views had resolved, by 1945, into a confident gestural style 
of terrific intensity and freedom. Drawing upon the 
historical moment for inspiration (Assalto alle prigioni 
[As.Sc///l/ mi the Prisons, 1945], Incendio del villaggio {Burning 
of the Village, 1945I, // comiziante [Man at a Political /Meeting, 
1946]), Vedova unleashed an automatism of seismic ferocity, 
unsurpassed as a correlative of the chaos of the times. All 
of this was suspended during 1946 for an obligatory 
acquiescence to picassism. With monumental personages 
comprised of collage-like components {Cncitrice, n. 1 
[Seamstress, No. 1, 1946], II pescatore [The Fisher/nan, 1946]) 

24 Art 

and abstract compositions based on the Hat patterning of 
the Cubist armature (Jmmagine del tempo \lmage of Time, 
1946}, Poemetto delta sera [Evening Poem, 1946}, Reticolati 
[Barbed Wire, 1946]), Vedova dutifully prolonged the formal 
life of the superannuated French manner. In the course of 
the next two years, however, his innate turbulence 
reasserted itself. With several important paintings a shot of 
Futurist energy seems to have rocketed through the brittle 
structures of Cubism, shattering forever their stability and 
poise. In Esplosione {Explosion, 1948, fig. 9), Lo Stregone (The 
Sorcerer, 1948), and Uragano (Hurricane, 1948) he forged 
Cubism's geometric fragments into sickles and blades, 
claws and bayonets, and then sent them rotating through 
space against lurid bursts of raw color (see also cat. nos. 25, 
26). The lofty authority of French art folded in the face of 
sheer temperament, expressive immediacy, and a fierce 
morality that committed painting to expressing a sense of 
historical crisis. By now Vedova had established himself as 
a formidable personality of the new generation. He already 
had shows in Milan, Genoa, Rome, Mantua, Turin, and 
Venice to his credit, and five of his 1948 paintings (// 
combattimento [The Battle], Esplosione, II guado [The Ford], 
Morte al sole [Death in the Sun], Uragano) were displayed in 
the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti section of the 1948 Biennale. 
Togliatti paid him the dubious honor of illustrating his 
infamous attack on the abstract art of the Alleanza 
exhibition with a photograph — printed upside down — of 
the painting Uragano. 

During this same period Burri took his first steps as a 
professional painter in Rome. Already past thirty, the self- 
trained artist would budget little time for the initial 
exercises of personal discovery, for the identification of 
sources and affinities and the preliminary mapping of an 
independent course. Few works survive from these years in 
which he made a swift and decisive conversion to 
abstraction. Burri debuted in July 1947 at Galleria La 
Margherita with a group of still lifes and landscapes, a few 
dating back to his detention in Texas. The images were 
thickly painted, directly rendered, and free of unnecessary 
detail, revealing neither the descriptiveness of the naive 
artist nor the willful distortion of the novice expressionist, 
but rather a determined pursuit of immediacy, of actuality, 
in the material and color of paint itself. The following May, 
in his second solo at the Margherita, Burri offered 
nonobjective works flavored by the inspiration of Paul 
Klee. Before the year was out an understanding of Joan 
Miro, Arp, and Enrico Prampolini informed what was 
taking shape as Burri's idiosyncratic fusion of a governing 
rectilinear infrastructure with buoyant ovoid and bulbous 
elements. The surfaces remained resolutely anti- 
illusionistic and soberly monochromatic, but they were 
animated by the play of matte and glossy paint, by sudden 
eruptions of bright color, and by collaged patches of coarse 
canvas. Burri's work received scant critical attention, bin 
his participation in the exhibitions of two art associations 
indicate that his efforts were taken as coinciding with the 
general aim of reintegrating Italian painting with flu- 
surviving strains of Europe's prewar avant-garde. Rome's 
Associazione dell'Art Club, founded in 194s by Prampolini 
and Jozef Jarema to reconnect Italy with the progressive 
currents of international art, included compositions by 
Burri in its annual shows of [947 and 1949. the latter a 


fig. 6. Renato Guttuso, Mangiatori di 
Angune (Melon Eaters). 1948. Oil mi 
canvas, 89 x116 cm. The Museum 0) 
Modi rn Art, Nt u York, Pun ■ 
■ xchangi 1. 

fig. 7. Gillo Dorfles, Composizione con 
8 Creste (Composition with S 
( rests), iqsii. Oil on canvas, jo < 
cm. Courtes) oj tbt artist, Wilan. 

is Mart ■ ■ I \ 

fig. 8. Atanasio Soldati, Allegro e 
fuga. 1950. Oil on canvas, 79 x 98 cm. 
Galleria Gian Ferrari Arte Moderna, 

fig. 9. Emilio Vedova, Hsplosione 
^Explosion,). 1948. Oil on canvas, 150 x 
i}o cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

crucial year that also saw Burri's first trip to Paris and the 
inclusion of his work in the Salon des Realites Nouvelles. 
The Salon had sprung from the prewar Abstraction- 
Creation group, and by 1949, after tolerating a certain 
heterodoxy in the definition of non figurative art, it had 
narrowed its support to an essentially retrospective practice 
of geometric Purism/' 

Paradoxically, Burri already had set out to subvert the 
very tradition the Salon defended, for by now he was 
adding sand, pumice, and tar to his paintings, building a 
heterogeneous surface that asserted a grossly existential 
presence in utter defiance of the transcendence promised 
by the nonfigurative art of the past. This violation of the 
surface by extrapictorial materials (see fig 10, cat. nos. 1 — 5) 
bears some kinship with the matierisme (matter painting) of 
Jean Fautrier and Jean Dubuffet, whose work Burri 
doubtless saw in Paris. But where the French artists 
embedded an image, however latent or primal, in the 
physically charged surface, Burri banished any trace of 
image making in favor of defining painting as a wholly 
material practice. Perhaps more to the point than 
contemporary French efforts was the Futurist concept of 
polimaterismo (polymaterialism), which had urged artists to 
overthrow the traditional unity and preciousness of 
sculpture by combining materials of the most 
heterogeneous and least exalted nature, from transparent 
celluloid and metal strips to cloth, mirrors, and electric 
lights/' Burri's Roman colleague Prampolini had 
reanimated these ideas during the 1930s with a group of 
audacious mixed-media works (see fig. 11). In his 1944 book 
summarizing the working principles of polimaterismo, 
Prampolini made a crucial distinction between the collages 
of the early masters of Futurism, Cubism, Dada, and 
Surrealism, who had sought to create a relationship 
between painting and the applied element, and the utterly 
uncompromising contemporary practice he was advocating, 
which would exchange painting and its illusions for 
material reality and its innate expressive value: 

Polymaterial art is a free artistic conception that rebels against 
the beloved use and abuse of colored pigment, the mixer, the 
adulterator, the mystificator; against the function of the visual 
illusiomsm of pictorial means, from the most reactionary to the 
most revolutionary. To make the most unthinkable materials rise 
to a sensitive, emotive, artistic value constitutes the most 
uncompromising critical assertion against the nostalgic, 
romantic, and bourgeois palette. 2! 

Prampolini's words might be taken as a license for 
Burri's deeds. After 1949 Burri incorporated canvas sacking, 
scrap iron, wood, and plastic in his art, each time revealing 
the eloquence of "the most unthinkable materials" (see cat. 
nos. 29-40, 73-75). Yet if the transcendence and integrity 
of traditional painting were mortified by his actions, the 
heroism of the art object and its creator was enhanced. 
Indeed the more determinedly Burri scavenged among the 
low and seemingly inexpressive materials of modern life, 
the greater seemed his power to transform those substances 
into organized expressions of feeling and value, expressions 
that were centered on an object that, for all its 
transgressions, insisted on being included within an 
enlarged category of "painting." Prampolini's essay, 

26 Art 

however, called for more than a revolution in materials. 
He opened the door for a conceptual revolution as well. 
Beneath the epigram "L'ephemere est eterne [sic]" (The 
ephemeral is eternal) he proclaimed that the essence of a 
work of art lay not in the enduring physical fact of the 
product but in the "spectacular instant" of the visual 

The undated manifesto of the artists who called 
themselves Spazialisti advanced a comparable if more 
militantly stated desire to liberate art from a nostalgic and 
retentive attachment to objects: 

Art is eternal, but it cannot be immortal. . . . It will remain 
eternal as gesture, but will die as material. . . . We believe we 
can free art from material, to free the sense of the eternal from 
the preoccupation with immortality. And it does not matter to us 
if a gesture, once completed, lives but a moment or a millennium, 
because we are truly convinced that, once completed, it is 
eternal. 2 ~ 

Despite their grandiloquent evocation of the eternal the 
Spazialisti nonetheless felt themselves uniquely of the 
moment in their certainty that the work of art was a means 
and not an end in itself, that the purpose of a valid art was 
to crystallize the experience of the contemporary, and that 
the nature of the contemporary would be disclosed through 
the insights of science. The formulation of these 
convictions was guided and inspired by the charismatic 
Fontana. From the outset of his career in the 1930s Fontana 
had shown a restless and irreverent approach to materials. 
Whether scratching improvisational and wayward abstract 
designs on concrete tablets or contradicting the actual mass 
of his figural sculpture with applications of gold leaf or 
mosaic to the surfaces, he seemed to be testing the 
traditional limits of art. In 1939 an admiring if somewhat 
baffled Argan wrote of Fontana's "unstable, liquid space" 
and of the paradoxical dialectic of his work, which took as 
its theme nothing less than "the problem of volume and of 
plane, of single or multiple or simultaneous vision, and, in 
short, the dilemma of painting and sculpture."' 8 Fontana's 
position among the various factions and alliances within 
the art world of Fascist Italy had been no less mercurial. 
He exhibited with the nonfigurative artists of Galleria del 
Milione and with the expressionists of the Corrente group. 
He competed successfully for official recognition 
throughout the 1930s; in 1938, he appeared on the list of 
progressive artists singled out in a right-wing effort to 
establish Italy's own group of "degenerate" artists. 1 '' 

When Fontana returned to Milan in April 1947, he 
already had directed his Buenos Aires students in 
composing the Manifesto bianco (White manifesto), the 
1946 document that laid the groundwork for Spazialismo. 
Announcing the exhaustion of painting and sculpture in a 
"mechanical" era, the students had called for a four- 
dimensional art involving color, sound, movement, and 
time.' With no diminution of enthusiasm, they conceded 
that the means were as yet unknown. The successive 
statements by the Spazialisti testify to the difficulty of 
establishing those means. Their manifesto of March 1948 
described "artificial forms, rainbows of wonder, and 
luminous writings" created in the sky, .is well as 
photographs of the earth from a rocket in flight — none ot 

which strayed very far from the Futurist vision. The 
turning point was fontana's Ambiente \paziali COnformt 
spaziali ed illuminazione a luce nera {Spatial Environment 

with Spatial Forms and Black-Light Illumination), an 
installation that occupied Galleria del Naviglio tor six days 
in February 1949. With emanations of black light play ing 
across spiraling forms painted in fluorescent colors, the 
Ambiente amounted to an experience in actual space and 
time that put the viewer/participant at the center of the 
artwork as no Futurist painting, all mimetic vortices and 
whirlpools, had ever done. Fontana's creation was neither 
painting nor sculpture, nor was it even permanent, though 
from the perspective of the Spazialisti it was surely 
"eternal." According to writer and Spazialismo adherent 
Beniamino Joppolo, "spaces" had become the new plastic 
and colored material/' Henceforth Fontana would contest 
the physical objectness of art as determinedly as Burri 
would reinforce it. Also in 1949 Fontana created his first 
bucchi, or "holes," compositions consisting of multiple 
perforations in fields of white paper or canvas (see cat. nos. 
11 — 13). The bucchi superceded any previous gesture of 
negating the physical surface of painting, from Renaissance 
linear perspective to Monet's Nympheas to the metaphoric 
white "infinity" in which hovered Kazimir Malevich's 
Suprematist components. As light pierced the blackness of 
the Ambiente to render a composition in real space and 
time, so light traversed the punctured and permeable 
canvas to enter the measureless black space beyond. 
Fontana called these works concetti spaziali. or "spatial 
concepts," a title he first had coined for a ring-shaped 
sculpture of 1947 and would continue to use throughout his 
career (see cat. nos. 45 — 57, 94—97)." Taken together, these 
efforts anticipated, in both name and intent, conceptual 
art's "dematerialization" of the object twenty years later. 

In terms of Italian national life the year 1950 did not so 
much inaugurate a new decade significantly different from 
its predecessor as open the final chapter of the post-Fascist 
experience. Not yet discernible on the horizon was Italy's 
stunning transformation from a predominantly agricultural 
country to a car-enamored stronghold of consumer 
capitalism, a metamorphosis whose symbolic beginning 
has been identified variously with the introduction ot the 
Fiat 600 in 1953, with the commencement ot regular 
television broadcasting in 1954. and with the more 
statistically determined birth of the "economic miracle" 
in 1958." 

If events of the later 1950s laid the foundation tor i^os- 
style prosperity, the very early i^sos were still flavored In a 
sense of "aftermath" and transition. These \cars saw the 
last of the labor unrest and peasant uprisings that had 
inherited the insurrectionary momentum ot the anti- 
Fascist front and finally crumbled in the fece ot tin 
government's conservative poli< ies en monetary, wag« . and 
agricultural reform. In filmmaking the starld) 
confrontational ami crusading spirit with which neorealism 
had chronicled the struggles ot the poor sur\ ived to around 
195?, when it yielded to the sentimentally resolved 
melodramas ot "pink neorealism" and a growing public 
appetite tor est apist comedies. Fewer artists statements 
and manifestos pledged their authors and signatories to 
col lee tive action for social and political regeneration ( )ne 

was more hkeh to encounter dec I a rat ions ot art's 

27 Man ia I \ 

fig. io. Alberto Burri, Nero I /Black IJ 
1948. Tar. oil, enamel, and pumice-stone 
on canvas, 57 x 48.5 cm. Fondaziont 
Palazzo A//'/::/)//. Colleziont Burri, 
Citta di Castello. 

fig. 11. Enrico Prampolini, Intervista 
con la materia /Interview with the 
Material;. 1930. Mixedmedia, 
dimensions unknown. Location 
mihiiou 11. 

uncompromising creative liberty — Vedova compared it to 
the experimental freedom of the scientist — and the 
assertion that the "moral" position now coincided with 
resistance to every extra-art consideration." 

Typical of the moment was the manifesto of the Gruppo 
Origine, signed in Rome in January 1951 by Mario Ballocco, 
Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi (see cat. no. 6), and Ettore 
Colla (see cat. no. 42). The styles and interests of the 
signatories were as divergent as those of the Fronte Nuovo 
delle Arti members had been. Unlike the Fronte, however, 
Origine's solidarity did not call for activism and 
community in the face of historical necessity. Rather the 
four subscribed to the belief that "the morally most valid 
starting point of the 'non-figurative' exigencies of 
expression" was complete individual freedom with no 
concessions to content, decoration, or pleasure."' 

Even more characteristic of the emerging situation is the 
story of Gli Otto, an affiliation formed in 1952 to promote 
the critical and commercial fortunes of its membership: 
Afro [Afro Basaldella}, Birolli, Antonio Corpora, Mattia 
Moreni, Morlotti, Santomaso, Turcato, and Vedova. r Some 
of the painters resolved to keep their political opinions to 
themselves lest they jeopardize the image then being 
crafted by their chosen spokesman, Venturi. With one eye 
firmly fixed on the international audience, Venturi 
portrayed Gli Otto artists as independents victimized by 
the contentious factionalization of the Italian art world. 
Still determined to insert Italian painting into a continuing 
history of European Modernism, he assured his readers that 
the eight were "up-to-date" and that they were securely 
positioned at the end of an avant-garde genealogy that 
could be traced back to Cubism, Expressionism, and early 
abstraction. In another identification of morality with the 
values of autonomy and individual sensibility, Venturi 
explained that Gli Otto was dedicated above all to 
protecting the uncompromised "formal whole" that is the 
painting, and that here was to be found the "complete, 
disinterested moral responsibility which is necessary to 
every work of art." ,8 

It is tempting to consider Vedova, Burri, and Fontana 
during the years 1950—52 as emblems of the multiple 
cultural impulses of their changing country. Vedova 
remained the committed leftist reborn as the lone 
existential warrior, venting his considerable terribilith. in 
paintings that evoked conditions of strife and flux. By 1951, 
with such works of that year as Aggressivita (Aggressiveness), 
Immagine del tempo (Sbarramento) (Image of Time {Barrier}, 
fig. 12), and Scontro di sititazioni (Collision of Situations), he 
was unleashing great storms of paint, titanic encounters 
between hefty thrusting forms and reckless slashes of 
pigment. The tempestuous compositions corresponded to 
the inner human condition — what Vedova called "the data 
of interior equivalences" — rather than to specific and 
objective circumstances of conflict, though the artist's 
avowed preoccupation with the renewal of social 
relationships was undiminished.''' 

Burri's individualism was less truculent, although more 
pessimistic. His works, at once imperious and introverted, 
seemed to declare what has been described as the artist's 
"disdainful secession" from a postwar culture whose 
spiritual condition could not fail to disappoint him but 
whose anguish he could not help but express. 40 In 1950 

28 Art 

Burri introduced the Sacchi (Sacks, see fig. 13, cat. nos. 31, 
32, 34, 35, 37), compositions whose surfaces were fields of 
torn and weathered burlap and whose crude materiality 
threw the definition of painting into crisis." For all the 
filthy degradation of the material the works were elegantly 
structured according to an implicit, if flexible, grid. If on 
the one hand this seemed a belated reaffirmation of Cubist 
geometry and of the transformative powers of the artist in 
the manner of Picasso and Kurt Schwitters, it was also 
argued, most notably by Argan, that Burri had created 
something of an unprecedented and subversive nature, a 
"simulation of a picture, a sort of trompe-l'oeil in reverse, in 
which it is not painting which simulates reality, but reality 
that simulates painting."' 2 

Fontana likewise opened up a new avenue of transit 
between art and "reality," though one that undermined the 
very category of painting, counterfeit or otherwise. He 
followed the voids of the bucchi with their physical 
converse, canvases strewn with irregular "stones" of 
translucent Murano glass. Pushing his exploration of space 
and light, he created his first ambiente with neon at the 1951 
Milan Triennale. The Arabesco fluorescente (^Fluorescent 
Arabesque, see cat. no. 624), about 300 meters of tangled 
neon tubing suspended from a ceiling, proposed a new 
form of gestural art, linear yet three-dimensional, 
temporary, electric. It was followed in 1952, at the Fiera 
Campionaria in Milan, by the Soffitto spaziale (Spatial 
Ceiling), which featured simpler forms comprised of 
standardized light elements. That same year Fontana and 
seventeen colleagues, including Burri, signed the Manifesto 
del movimento spaziale per la televisione (Manifesto of the 
spatial movement for television), a prescient, pre -Marshall 
McLuhan insight into the potential of electronic broadcasts 
to serve as the "plastic" material of art.' 5 

The achievements of Italian artists by 1952 would soon 
be adduced by critics and historians as evidence of Italy's 
full and timely participation in the new art of the postwar 
avant-garde, an avant-garde that had been purged of 
idealism, rationalism, and any other vestigial influences, 
and whose participants shared an engagement with the 
phenomenological presentness of the materials of art. The 
elastic rubric Informale — wording borrowed from French 
critic Michel Tapie's formulation of Art Informel — came 
into favor at the end of the 1950s and subsequently was 
applied to a wide range of expressions, although writers 
would disagree on the essential roster of Informale artists: 
for some Burri's work was too elegantly structured, or 
Morlotti's thickly painted landscapes were more 
neoromantic than gestural, or Fontana showed too much of 
the optimism of the old-style avant-garde paladin when he 
claimed to sever all ties with the past. Argan described 
Informale as an art of pure existence in the present to be 
experienced without memories or reflections, an art of 
absolute alienation in which intentionality has supplanted 
ideology, an art freighted with postwar despair. 1 for 
Renato Barilli, Informale was an art that insisted on the 
world and all of its chaos, disorder, and contingent y. The 
elusive yet inclusive category was summed up cautiously by 
Maurizio Calvesi: 

creativi attitude characteristic of a period of crisis and 
development. Informah evidently didnothavt national limits, 
even ij it could assume altogether differentiated phy siognom\ 
individual countries. //. therefore, Informah na\ nut a 
movement of precisi and outwardly classifiabli linguistit 
characteristics to much a\ a new mental angh on thi a\ 
phenomenon, tin establishment of a new relationship between tin 
artist and his work, a new and different awareness <>/ ilu 
artistic event and 0/ tin making oj art. tlnii it is iin (urprist that 
its breadth was w great ./> to <.>//li\in contrasting extremes 
expression and widely divergent creativi attitudes. 

According to Calvesi, it was Italy's sporadic and 
incomplete acquaintance with the early avant-garde, along 

with the soul-searching and false starts of the hist postwar 
years, that accounted for the rich diversity within the art of 
Informale in Italy, compared to the more straightforward 
stylistic coherence of American Action Painting. The 
chronic liability had become an asset after all. It might be 
too much to say that the old fears of provincialism, 
dependence, and inferiority had been assuaged forever b\ 
Vedova, Burri, and Fontana, but with their unassailable 
confidence in their own pertinence and their willing 
exchange of the debts of the past for the unlimited 
possibilities of the present, the three artists established a 
vital standard of independence and experimentation that 
granted Italian art its moment of being finally, 
unapologetically, Modern . 

More than a movement and a trend, in lad. it was an instance, 
a point of convergence of the newt */ ri tearchi >. ./ 1 ritual and 


fig. 12. Emilio Vedova, Immagine del 
tempo (Sbarramento) (Image of Time 
[Barrier];, iosi. Egg tempera on 
uinnn. ivi.sxi70.jcm. Peggy 
Guggenheim Collection, Venice. 

fig. i}. Alberto Burri. Sacco (Sack,). 
1952. Burlap and oil on canvas. 99.5 x 
8$.$ cm. Fondazione Palazzo Albizznii. 
( ollt -/one Bum. Citta del Castello. 

Research for this essay was conducted with the support of the Summer 
Stipend Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Quotations from the original Italian have been translated into English 
by the author. The manifestos of artists' groups are reprinted in the 
Appendix that appears at the end of this volume, as well as in the 
sources cited by the author. 

1. Mario de Micheli, "Gli Anni di Corrente," in Carlo L. Ragghianti 
et al., Corrente: il movimento di arte e cultura di opposizione 1930- 194^ 
(Corrente: art movement and culture of opposition, 1930 — 1945. Milan: 
Vangelista, 1985), pp. 106-07, "3 n. 18. De Micheli quotes the painter 
Ernesto Treccani on events leading up to the 1943 raid. Other 
catalogues have referred erroneously to a date of 1942. 

2. A comprehensive historical picture is provided by Paul Ginsborg, 
A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics 1943—1988 (London: 
Penguin, 1990). Essential general histories of Italian art of this period 
include the landmark documentary study by Tristan Sauvage, Pittura 
italiana del dopoguerra (1945- 1957) (Italian postwar painting 

[1945 — 1957]. Milan: Schwarz, 1957); Enrico Crispolti, LInformale storia 
e poetica (Informale: history and poetics. Assisi-Rome: Beniamino 
Carucci, 1971); and Renato Barilli et al., LInformale in Italia (Informale 
in Italy. Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta, 1983). Collections of documentary 
material include Paola Barocchi, ed., Storia moderna dell'arte in Italia 
111: tra neorealismo ed anni novanta, 194s- 1990 (Modern history of art in 
Italy III: between neorealism and the 1990s, 1945 — 1990. Turin: 
Einaudi, 1992); and Germano Celant, L'Inferno dell'arte italiana: 
materiali 1946-1964 (The inferno of Italian art: materials 1946-1964. 
Genoa: Costa & Nolan, 1990). The political context is detailed by 
Nicoletta Misler, La via italiana al realismo: la politico, cultura e 
artistica del P.C.I, dal 1944 al 19^6 (The Italian road to realism: the 
cultural and artistic policy of the PCI from 1944 ro 1956. Milan: 
Gabriele Mazzotta, 1972). 

3. Ernesto Treccani and Ennio Morlotti, Prima manifesto di pittori e 
scultori, 1943, reprinted in Sauvage, pp. 221-22. 

4. Ennio Morlotti, "Guernica," Numero 2 (January— February 1946), 
reprinted in Sauvage, pp. 229 — 31. 

5. Benedetto Croce (1866 — 1952), arguably the most influential anti- 
Fascist intellectual in Italy after 1925, advocated a position of scholarly 
"resistance' according to which it was morally sufficient to keep one's 
research and writing free of Fascist influence without having to engage 
in outright anti-Fascist activity. With the growth of repression in Italy, 
however, the preservation of intellectual autonomy came to be viewed, 
particularly by the Left, as an untenable luxury and an evasion. See 
Fabrizio Onofri, "Irresponsabilita dell'arte sotto il fascismo," Rinascita 
(Rebirth) 1 (1944), reprinted in Misler, pp. 98 — 107; and R. Bossaglia, 
Parlando con Argan (Speaking with Argan. Nuoro: Illiso, 1992), 

pp. 22-23. 

6. Giulio Carlo Argan, "L'impegno politico per la liberta della 
cultura," in Giorgio Cortenova et al., Da Cezanne all'arte astratta: 
omaggio a Lionello Venturi (From Cezanne to abstract art: homage to 
Lionello Venturi. Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta, 1992), p. 12. 

7. Misler, pp. 21 — 22. 

8. "Manifesto del realismo," Numero 2 (March 1946), reprinted in 
Sauvage, pp. 232—33, the quotation is on p. 232. 

9. Manifesto reprinted in Sauvage, p. 234. See also Enzo Di Martino, 
// Fronte Nuovo delle Arti (The Fronte Nuovo delle Arti. Milan: Fabbri, 

10. Manifesto reprinted in Sauvage, pp. 248 — 49, both quotations 
appear on p. 248. 

11. Mino Guerrini, "Perche la pittura," Forma /, April 1947, cited in 
Sauvage, p. 112. 

12. Giulio Carlo Argan, "Pittura italiana e cultura europea," Prose 3 
(1946), reprinted in Giulio Carlo Argan, Stitdi e Note (Studies and 
notes. Rome: Fratelli Bocca, 1955), pp. 21-56, the quotation is on p. 32. 
For a detailed discussion of the issue of internationalism and painting 
in postwar Italy, see Marcia E. Vetrocq, "National Style and the 
Agenda for Abstract Painting in Post-War Italy," Art History 12, no. 4 
(December 1989), pp. 448-71. 

13. On Venturis continuing role as Italy's leading advocate of 
international Modernism, see Vetrocq, pp. 458-61. 

14. Piero Dorazio, La fantasia dell'arte nella vita moderna (The fantasy 
of art in modern life. Rome, 1955), cited in Augusta Monferini, "Dagli 

30 Art 

'Archivi dell'Impressionismo' al museo-scuola,' in Cortenova et al., 
p. xii. 

15. Quoted in Sauvage, from a conversation with Morlotti, p. 199. 

16. Cesare Brandi, "Europeismo e autonomia di cultura nella pittura 
moderna italiana," Uimmagine (Image) 1 (1947), pp. 3 — 11, 69 — 86, 

17. Giuseppe Marchiori, Pitt nra moderna italiana (Modern Italian 
painting. Trieste: Stampe Nuove, 1946). Vedova is discussed on 
p. 28. 

18. On the developing ideology of the DC, see Ginsborg, pp. 182-85. 
American intervention in the Italian elections literally became a 
textbook case lor foreign policy students. See Morris Janowitz ami 
Elizabeth Marvick, "U.S. Propaganda Efforts and the 1948 Italian 
Elections," in William Daugherty, A Psychological Warfare Casebook 
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1958), pp. 320-26; and James E. Miller, 
"Taking Off the Gloves: The United States and the Italian Elections of 
1948," Diplomatic History 7, no. 1 (Winter 1983), pp. 35 — 55. 

19. On the Alleanza exhibition and its aftermath, see Misler, 

pp. 57 — 60. Togliatti's review and the letter, along with his response, 
are reprinted in Barocchi, pp. 77 — 84. The Fronte Nuovo delle Arti 
was declared officially dissolved in March 1950. 

20. The occasion is recalled by Emilio Vedova in Scontro di situazioni 
(Collision of situations. Milan: All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro, 1963), 

p. 10 n. 3. 

21. Sauvage, pp. 91-95. For prewar background, see Paolo Fossati's 
standard study Uimmagine sospesa: pittura e scultura astratte in Italia. 
1934 — 40 (The suspended image: abstract painting and sculpture in 
Italy, 1934 — 40. Turin: Einaudi, 1971); and Fossati's essay "Abstract (and 
Non-Figurative) Art of the 1930s," in Pontus Hulten et al., Italian Art 
1900 — 194s (New York: Rizzoli, 1989), pp. 223-34. 

22. The 1951 /Manifesto del MAC, written by Gillo Dorfies, is reprinted 
in Sauvage, pp. 235—37. 

23. Dominique Vieville, "Vous avez dit geometrique/ Le Salon des 
Realites Nouvelles 1946 — 1957," in Germaine Viatte et al., Paris-Paris: 
creations en France 1937— 1957 (Paris— Paris: creations in France 

1937— 1957. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1981), pp. 270—82. 

24. Maurizio Calvesi, "Futurism and the Avant-Garde Movements," in 
Hulten et al., pp. 62 — 64. 

25. Enrico Prampolini, "Introduzione all'arte polimaterica," reprinted 
in Giovanna De Feo et al., Arte astratta in Italia 1909-19^9 (Abstract 
art in Italy 1909 — 1959. Rome: De Luca, 1980), pp. 15-16. 

26. Ibid., p. 15. 

27. Sauvage, p. 265. The undated manifesto, reprinted in Sauvage, 
pp. 265 — 66, was signed by Lucio Fontana, Giorgio Kaisserlian, 
Beniamino Joppolo, and Milena Milani. Giampiero Giani, a 
participant in the movement and the author of the early historical 
study Spazialismo: origini e snlnppi di una tendenza artistica 
(Spazialismo: origins and developments of an artistic movement. 
Milan: Edizioni della Conchiglia, 1956), and Crispolti, Ulnformale, 
p. 305, attribute the manifesto to 1947, which seems to be supported 
by a reference wirhin rhe Proposta di tin regolatnento del movimento 
spaziale (Proposal for a regulation of the spatial movement), 
sometimes called the Terzo manifesto del spazialismo (Third manifesto 
of Spazialismo) and dated April 2, 1950. Sauvage places it after the 
manifesto of March 18, 1948. 

28. Argan, "Lucio Fontana," reprinted in Studi e note, p. 213. 

29. Enrico Crispolti, "Futurism and Plastic Expression Between the 
Wars," in Hulten et al., pp. 211, 213. 

30. Reprinted in Celant, L'Inferno, pp. 75-82. 

31. Reprinted in Sauvage, p. 264. 

32. Quoted in Crispolti, Ulnformale, pp. 313 — 14. Joppolo's original 
essay appeared in the catalogue that accompanied the Ambienti 

??. Ibid., pp. 306, 313. 

34. Ginsborg, pp. 210—17; ant ' Stephen Ciundle, "L'Americanizzazione 
del quotidiano: televisione e consumismo nell'Italia degli anni 
cinquanta," Quaderni ftorici (Historical notebooks) 62, no. : (August 
1986), pp. 561 — 94. 

35. Emilio Vedova, "Tutto va rimesso in < ansa, Quaderni di San 
Giorgio (Notebooks of San Giorgio), no. 1 (1954), reprinted in Germano 
Celant, Vedova 19^-1984 (Milan: Electa, 1984), pp. 88-90. 

*6. Reprinted in Sauvage, p. 250. 

37. For a detailed history ot the group, sec Luisa Somaini, "Otto pittori 

italiani" 1952—1954 ("Eight Italian painters" 1952 1954 Rome 1 )i Luca 

and Milan: Arnoldo Mondadori, 1986). 

38. Lionel lo Venturi, Otto pittori italiani (Eight Italian painters Ri 

De Luca, 1952). pp. 9-10. 

59. In Celant, Vedova, p. 88. 

40. Maurizio Calvesi, Alberto Burri, trans. Robert E. Woll 1 N< w York: 
I larry N. Abrams, [9 '$; 1971 1, pp n-14. On tins point ( alvesi lil 
Burri to Morandi. 

41. It has been noted frequently that disc arded burlap s.u k\ were thi 
material on which Burn made his first paintings in Texas Signifii ant, 
too, is the collage SZi (1949), in which Burn incorporated a fragment 
of a sack stamped with the markings ol an Ameri< an reliel shipment. 
It was in 1949 chat bread rationing finall) ended in Italy. With their 
gaping holes, stitches, and patches, the Sacchi were ripe tor 
interpretation as metaphors tor the tlcsh — wounded, sutured, and 
scarred, as well as allusions to Burns loresaken medical career, all ot 
which the artist refuted. 

42. Giulio Carlo Argan, "Alberto Burn," i960, reprinted in (milio 
Carlo Argan. Salvezza e cadnta nell'arti moderna (Salvation and failure 
in modern art. Milan: II Saggiatore, 1977; 1964), p. 260. 

43. Manifesto reprinted in Sauvage, p. 270. 

44. Giulio Carlo Argan, "Materia, tecnica e storia nell'Informale, 
1959, reprinted in Argan, Salvezza e cadnta nell'arte moderna, 

pp. 81—89. 

45. Re'nato Barilli, "Considerazioni sullTnfbrmale," // Verri, no. 2. 1961, 
reprinted in Renato Barilli, Informali oggetto comportamento (Informale 
object behavior), vol. 1 (Milan: Feltnnelli. 1979), pp. 38-54. 

46. Maurizio Calvesi, "LInformale in Italia finoal 1957," first 
published 1963, reprinted in Maurizio Calvesi, Li dm avanguardie: dal 
Puturismo alia Pup art (The two avant-gardes: from Futurism to Pop 
art. Milan: Lerici, 1966), pp. 205, 207. 

u Mian ia I \ 

Before the End of the 
Journey: Testimony across 
the Atlantic 

Anna Costantini 

The exchanges of ideas about art between the United States 
and Italy in the twenty years after World War II consist of 
physical encounters that changed beliefs, the painstaking 
pursuit of information and comparisons, and, most 
important, the personal testimony, oral and written, of the 
principal figures involved. With the help of such testimony, 
we can now re-create those encounters and that period, 
following private, ephemeral threads through a narrative 
mosaic of letters, photographs, and remembrances to 
isolate and characterize an epoch, a place, an atmosphere. 

A radical transformation in the mode of artistic 
communication can clearly be dated, in Italy at least, to 
the period between the end of the 1960s and the beginning 
of the 1970s, the moment when the increasing expansion of 
the audience, and the consequent birth of a more organized 
culture industry, made all artistic activity public and 
official — and therefore more rapidly and broadly 
communicable. The growing number of specialized 
reviews, almost all of them bilingual and with a network of 
correspondents who followed international art events, as 
well as the publishing industry's own interest in the 
diffusion of information about art, which spawned the 
publication of the first critical surveys of the contemporary 
scene and the first retrospective exhibitions on the 1950s 
and 1960s — all represent the beginning of an increasingly 
accelerated mechanism of information that abandoned 
personalized forms of transmission, thus producing an 
essential change in the ideas of displacement and travel, 
and gave rise to a preferred, autonomous channel for the 
transmission of information and to the speed with which it 
was received. 

The personal account, however, remains the means for 
retracing the hypothetical journey of ideas and people 
among Rome, Venice, New York, and Turin from the end 
of World War II to the end of the 1960s. It is a journey in 
which time is still proportional to distance, a journey 
recounted, photographed, and recorded in writing at each 
of its stages. The end of this system of communication, in 
those years, in art — but even more so, in general, the end 
of a way of life — presupposes the concomitant exhaustion 
of the very concept of testimony. 


Throughout 1946 and early 1947 the center of artistic and 
political debate in Rome was the studio of Renato Guttuso 
on via Margutta. This was the meeting place for young 
Italian artists who had emerged from the experience of the 
war and had not yet been polarized by the polemics 
between abstractionists and realists, which were just 
beginning to heat up with the pro-abstraction positions 
included in the manifesto of the Forma group, published in 
March 1947. Also on via Margutta were the studios of, 
among others, Afro {Afro Basaldella, see figs. 4, 8], Nick 
Carone (an Italian-American painter), Angelo Savelli, 
Salvatore Scarpitta (born in New York but a resident of 
Italy since 1939), and Giulio Turcato.' 

It was in Guttuso's studio in 1946 that Piero Dorazio 
(see figs. 1, 9) first met lone Robinson, the American artist, 
photographer, and journalist who had come to Rome, along 
with Allied troops, as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes. 
A friend of Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco, 
Robinson had frequented the artistic milieu of Paris and 

32 Art 

had then gone on to fight in Spain during the Civil War. 
Back in the United States she had met and assisted Count 
Carlo Sforza during his exile. Sforza was Foreign Minister ot 
the fifth Giovanni Giolitti government in 1920 and the last 
Italian Ambassador to Paris before the advent of Fascism; 
he returned to Italy in 1945 and became President of the 
Council of State. In Rome, Robinson spearheaded the 
project, supported by Sforza, to transform the Foro 
Mussolini into a European center for the arts. She sought 
the participation of the major international artists of the 
time, most of whom she had met in Paris: Georges Braque, 
Fernand Leger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, and Pablo 
Picasso. In a letter to Dorazio she wrote: "For the U.S. it 
would be wonderful if in the press they read that the 
Italians were finally going to make this project. ... It is for 
young Italians like you [and] Pietro [Consagra] to fight to 
realize something for the artists. If you insist and insist . . . 
there will be a way."' Unfortunately the project was never 
realized, but Robinson remained in Rome until mid- 1948, 
contributing to the international flow of information and 
bringing to that city the first news of and contacts with 
American culture of the time, and with European culture 
that had taken refuge across the ocean during the war. 

The Chilean artist Matta [Roberto Sebastian Matta 
Echaurren, see fig. 2} was particularly important in this 
process of bringing Italy up to date. By 1949, when he 
arrived in Rome, Matta had already absorbed the Surrealist 
experience, both directly, through contact with Andre 
Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Eluard, Man Ray, and 
others in Paris, and indirectly, through the impact of 
Surrealism on the New York scene, for which Matta, 
especially to the younger generation, represented a point of 
reference. At the time of his arrival in Rome, Matta already 
knew Carone, who took him into all the important 
painters' studios, which Matta then frequented assiduously, 
"always in search of the truth, of something to be found 
and to discuss with others. Matta brought to Rome a wind 
of innovation that contained the whole intellectual debate 
about art that was raging in New York at the time. He 
wanted to go beyond Surrealism." 1 For Roman artists the 
first moment of exchange with the United States was 
mainly tied to a need to reenter the international debate — 
a debate that had been almost entirely lacking since 1936, 
when the Mussolini regime took an imperialist turn. The 
prestige of Paris, which had always been the primary 
reference point for those Italian intellectuals who had 
continued to look beyond their own national boundaries, 
had crumbled once and for all with the Nazi occupation. 
Nevertheless what occurred culturally and artistically in 
Rome with the arrival of the Allied troops was still 
influenced by the Parisian experience, which continued to 
dominate the international trends and market in art 
through its place of exile in New York. 

In 1950 the New York art critic Milton Gendel settled in 
Rome, having just accompanied the American 
photographer Marjorie Collins, who was documenting the 
effects of the Marshall Plan for the U.S. State Department, 
on a trip to Sicily. During this journey Gendel produced 
his own photoreportage (see fig. }). .1 series ot shots that 
show the strong "influence ot the neo-Rcahst films, with 
their hinterland of social realism a la Soviet c inema and 
their feelings and sensations derived from novels by the 

■ Piero Dorazio photographed by 
Milton Gould. Pia :a di Spa 
! 9$o. 

Toti Si ialoja | It ft I and Matta 

■ I ~ ■ ndel, 

Rome, car/) 1060s. 

w Anna ' ostantim 

fig. ,'. Milton Gendel, Palermo. ig$o. 

fig. 4. Left to right: Plinin de Martiis, 
Cy Twombly. Rittb Klingman, Afro, 
and Willem de Kooning. Rome. ips9- 

likes of [the] Narodniki [Russian populists], Knut 
Hamsun, and the rural Americans." 4 But although 
Gendel's very ordinary and humble Sicily — his gaze on 
reality and truth — represents a convergence of intents with 
the anti-Fascist generation of Italians who came of age 
politically in the pages of Elio Vittorini's review // 
politecnico (Polytechnic), the artistic experiences that 
colored his thinking were still tied to Surrealism and to the 
European culture in exile in New York. In 1942 Gendel had 
been a fellow student with Robert Motherwell at Columbia 
University, and the two of them had been invited by 
Breton to coedit the review VW, which was to be the New 
York replacement for the famous Parisian journal Minotaure 
(Minotaur). They would have causes for dispute with 
Breton well before the publication of the first issue of the 
review, but for these two young men the months spent 
preparing VW had represented a chance to get to know 
the entire Surrealist group, and more generally the 
European artistic milieu that had formed in Greenwich 
Village. In 1943 Gendel had enlisted in the army "to rid the 
world of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito: ... I decided to 
join the Army because I could not think of any good 
reason why I should stay out. The evening I told Breton 
that I was going into uniform, he looked at me with an 
ironic expression and said: 'Vous voulez participer a cette 
betise, mais je dois dire que c'est con' [You want to take 
part in this idiocy, but I must say that it's stupid]."' 


American Abstract Expressionist art arrived in Italy at the 
XXV Biennale, the first Biennale of the postwar period, in 
1948. In the Greek pavilion Peggy Guggenheim showed her 
collection, which would remain in Venice from then on. 
The collection brought with it the Surrealist experience 
and its New York assimilation — which was clearly 
becoming increasingly autonomous — in works by such 
artists as William Baziotes, Arshile Gorky, Motherwell, 
Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.' Two years later, also in 
Venice, Peggy Guggenheim, in collaboration with the 
Italian publisher Bruno Alfieri, organized Pollock's first solo 
exhibition in Italy and Europe. The exhibition, held in the 
Sala Napoleonica, featured some twenty oils, drawings, and 
gouaches from Guggenheim's collection, plus two paintings 
obtained on loan from the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. 

The Italian response to the New York School, however, 
was still a long way from real comprehension. A slow but 
gradual acceptance only came about through direct 
acquaintance with the central figures themselves, from 1954 
through 1956, when Italian artists and collectors made their 
first trips to New York. One of these collectors, Giorgio 
Franchetti, left for the United States in December 1957, 
shortly after meeting Cy Twombly (see fig. 4), who by then 
had decided to settle definitively in Rome. In New York, 
Franchetti bought some paintings and works on paper by 
Franz Kline, as well as two paintings by Rothko: Purple 
Brown (1957), which later found its way into the collection 
of Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (and eventually into that of 
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), and 
Black in Deep Red (1957). Panza was struck by the 
reproduction of a work by Kline published in the review 
Civilla cielle macchine (Culture of the machines, see fig. 5), 
and with his 1957 acquisition from Sidney Janis (see fig. 9) 

34 Art 

of Kline's Buttress (1956, which is also now in the collection 
of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), he 
began to train his collector's eye on American art. Indeed 
it was because of a deeper appreciation of the work of 
Gorky (whose first solo exhibition in Italy was presented by 
Afro at the Galleria dell'Obelisco, Rome in 1957) and to the 
news of American art now appearing in up-to-date reviews 
like Arti Visive (Visual arts) that the new American art 
came to be definitively consecrated in the great Pollock 
retrospective organized by the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna in Rome (with Palma Bucarelli as its curator) in 
1958 (see fig. 6). 

New York 

The situation had become very tense for abstract artists in 
Rome by the late 1940s. For those who had emerged from 
the war sharing the ideals of the liberation, the 
disappointment in finding the PCI (Partito Comunista 
Italiano/Italian Communist Party) firmly opposed to 
bringing the art scene into line with international trends 
was severe. Dorazio and the Forma group were the first to 
feel the effects of this, suffering a kind of 
excommunication for espousing an art of formal 
experiment rather than one of figurative expression. The 
primary destination for those wishing to burst free of these 
already stifling limitations was still Paris, where Dorazio, 
for example, went in 1948 on a scholarship. But the idea of 
America was becoming increasingly powerful, and the 
desire of so many young people to look elsewhere was often 
accompanied by this idea of a country that knew about 
freedom and "had in its own constitution the principle of 
the pursuit of happiness."" A number of Italian artists with 
a variety of aspirations and expectations left for the United 
States at this time: Afro, who went to New York in 1950 for 
his first American solo exhibition at the Catherine Viviano 
Gallery; Mimmo Rotella, who went to Kansas City on a 
scholarship in 1951; Dorazio, who was invited to Harvard 
University in 1953 for the Harvard International Summer 
Seminar; and Savelli, who went from via Margutta to Paris 
and then on to New York, where he settled permanently in 
1954. The mythified expectations of New York's openness to 
art and artists that had been created on the European side 
of the ocean were disappointed. In 1956, for example, when 
Toti Scialoja (see fig. 2) and his wife, Gabriella Drudi (see 
fig. 7), arrived in New York just after Pollock's death, the 
Abstract Expressionist group had all the qualities of a 
closed community living on the margins of the city, 
misunderstood and plagued by economic woes. Most of the 
artists had other jobs in order to earn enough to live, and 
the luckier ones enjoyed teaching positions.'' 

For young Italian artists the point of reference in New 
York became the Catherine Viviano Gallery, which, aside 
from the quasi-annual shows of Afro, exhibited work by 
such artists as Fausto Pirandello (1955), Scialoja (1956), 
Luciano Minguzzi (1956), Mirko [Mirko Basaldella] (1957), 
Renato Birolli (1958), Ennio Morlotti (1959), and Dino 
Basaldella (1961). The New York market was still 
dominated by European art, and Catherine Viviano (see 
fig. 8), who had worked for many years with the dealer 
Pierre Matisse, struck out on her own in an enterprise 
analogous to Matisse's earlier strategy with French artists, 
presenting the recent Italian painting most closely linked, 

(IVII.TA delle macchine 

fig. 5. Cover oj Civilta delle 
macchine <;. no. 4 (July— August 1957). 
showing detail oj a work b) Franz 

fig. 6. Back cover of Civihh. delle 
macchine 6. no. 3-4 (May— August 
1958). showing the Jackson Pollock 
retrospective at tht Galleria Nazionah 
J'. \m Moderna, Rome. 

[5 \nna < nituu 

fig. 7. Gabriella Drudi (left) and 
\\ 'ilh m ill Kooning (right) 
photographed b) Toti Scialoja, at 
di Kooning's Tenth Street studio, 
New York, October n>s6. 

jig. 8. Catherint Viviano (left) and 
Afro (right), Venice, xg$os. 

for the moment at least, to the post-Cubist tradition. 

When Leo Castelli (see fig. 9) and his wife Ileana 
transformed their New York apartment into an exhibition 
space in February 1957, the inaugural show, despite the 
presence of Willem de Kooning (see figs. 4, 7), Pollock, and 
David Smith, attested to a marked reliance on the 
European culture centered in Paris, a culture to which 
Castelli, by origin and by choice, clearly belonged. The 
following year the Castellis traveled to Italy in search of a 
circuit of artists, and therefore of buyers, that would 
involve Europe. In August, Castelli wrote to Dorazio: "I 
want to tell you again how much I liked the milieu in 
Rome. I think you've made tremendous progress in the last 
two years, and with an intelligent exchange policy (in 
which, with your and Plinio [de Martiis]'s help, I would 
like to play an important part), Rome could become the 
third center of world art.'" 

Castelli visited the Biennah in Venice with the intention 
of establishing a policy for his New York gallery: "I 
stopped a long time in the section for young Italian and 
foreign artists, and also for older Italians, mostly to look at 
those artists you've spoken to me about, who might be 
taken into consideration for a group show in New York." 1 
Nevertheless the Leo Castelli Gallery would evince no 
further interest in contemporary Italian art in the seasons 
that followed, except for an exhibition, during the 1958-59 
season, of work by Savelli, then a resident of New York. 


If Castelli's interest in Italian and European art gradually 
diminished in the three years from 1959 to 1962 — the year 
in which Roy Lichtenstein, whom Castelli had met the 
year before, 11 had his first solo exhibition at Castelli's 
gallery — the search for a possibility of exchange with Italy, 
and especially with Rome, continued with Castelli's ex-wife 
Ileana, who in the meantime had married Michael 
Sonnabend. Nineteen sixty-one was the year of her first 
attempt to open an exhibition space in Rome, for which 
she again sought the help and collaboration of de Martiis 
(see fig. 4)." She was also looking for Italian artists to 
exhibit and soon signed a contract with the Roman artist 
Mario Schifano, a relationship that would prove to be 
short-lived and fraught with conflict. 

Ileana Sonnabend's European debut would take place in 
1962, not in Rome but in Paris, and would have immediate 
consequences for the Italian art scene.' 4 The link would be 
Turin, the base of operations for Michelangelo Pistoletto 
and in i960 the site of his first solo exhibition at the 
Galatea gallery (where the future art dealer Gian Enzo 
Sperone would soon work as an assistant). In 1963, after his 
second show at Galatea, Pistoletto went to Paris and met 
Sonnabend." His first foreign show would take place in the 
Sonnabend exhibition space on Quai des grands Augustins 
on March 4, 1964, just a few months after their meeting. 
Indeed it was through Pistoletto that Sperone, by now 
director of II Punto gallery and soon to become a dealer in 
his own right, met Sonnabend in Paris."' This introduction 
gave birth to the exhibition and market circuit that would 
lead to Liechtenstein's first solo exhibition in Italy, at II 
Punto, in December 1963, six months before the definitive 
establishment of Pop art in Italy and Europe at the famous 
XXXII Biennale in Venice. 

36 Art 

Rome continued to sustain a spontaneous international 
milieu, which enabled galleries like Gian Tomaso Liverani's 
La Salita to present the first Italian solo exhibitions of 
Christo [Christo Jaracheff] in 1963 (see fig. 10) and Richard 
Serra in 1966, but in the early 1960s a gradual shift took 
place. The international art circuit in Italy slowly moved to 
the North, in particular to the industrial triangle of Turin, 
Genoa, and Milan. This clearly arose from the 
establishment of a circuit of collectors, which gave rise to a 
growing demand for information, which in turn was 
fostered and fed by the industrial expansion during the 
years of the miracolo italiano (Italian miracle).'" The Italy 
now taking shape was a consumer Italy far closer to the 
American model so idealized by the generation of Italian 
artists and intellectuals born in the 1920s, but for this very 
reason it was also called into question at the end of the 
1960s, primarily by artists. The birth of Arte Povera in 
Genoa (where the first Arte Povera exhibition, curated by 
Germano Celant, was presented in 1967 at La Bertesca 
gallery) and Turin (where Sperone represented every artist 
of the movement, all of whom had been born or long active 
in that city) was the ideological confirmation of an Italy 
now fully emerged from the war, which had embraced 
rather than spontaneously generated a model of production 
historically foreign to it. It was also Turin that hosted the 
first Italian exhibition to bring together Land Art, Arte 
Povera, and Conceptual Art, a show, again curated by 
Celant, that bore witness, even through the acceleration of 
the information process, to the growing pointlessness of 
singling out one center to move toward or away from. In 
the foreword to the catalogue of the 1970 show at the 
Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, the very conception of the 
exhibition catalogue was analyzed: 

catalogue as 

. . . space when public or private 

documents are reproduced 

sign of a passage, memory, testimony, vestige 

. . . all this serves to document, to provide 

means or informative material in a specific field 

of research 

object of study 

historical testimony 

. . . critical interpretation of the events to be 


what makes the past relive in the mind 

. . . work's maximum entropy in art 

knowledge of a being-there conditioning what and 

how we percent today. 

fig. 9. heft tn right: Piero Dorazio, 
Sidney Janis, and Leo Castellt 
photographed b) Virginia Dortch, 
Caffi Paradiso, Venice, earl) 1960s. 

fig. jo. Christo at Villa Borghese, Rome, 

Paradoxically, the very experiences of Land Art and Arte 
Povera, which imply yet again a dialogue between the 
United States and Italy, as well as an expansion of the 
concept of the place of art and its documentation, represent 
a transition, a change in the methods of transmitting the 
artistic act. They bring to an end the gradual exhaustion of 
that system in which the concepts of the journey as path 
and exchange, as quest for comparison and vision — and 
testimony were seen as the exclusive, indispensable 
premises of communication tor an entire generation. 

Translated, from the Italian, b) Sttphtn Sartarelli. 

; \ ■ ■. ; < Uantint 

This text should be considered a first step toward future explorations 
and a continuation of the research that began in 1993 with Germano 
Celant and Anna Costantini's Roma -New York 1948-1964, the idea for 
which originated with Celant. The notations contained herein were 
written thanks to the help and generosity of many people, foremost 
among them Piero Dorazio. To him and Giuliana, I express my 
heartfelt gratitude. My thanks go also to Gaspero Del Corso, Virginia 
Dortch, Barbara Drudi, Gabriella Drudi, Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, 
Milton Gendel, Mario Graziani, Matthew Horton, Maria Grazia 
Indrimi, Toti Scialoja, and the Catherine Viviano Estate. 

1. Laura Cherubini, "Da via Sallustiana a via del Lavatore. Per luoghi 
con gli artisti," in Achille Bonito Oliva, ed., Tutte le strade portano a 
Roma? (Do all roads lead to Rome?), exhibition catalogue (Rome: 
Edizioni Carte Segrete, 1993), especially pp. 33-37. 

2. lone Robinson to Piero Dorazio, New %rk, November 9, 1948, 
Archivio Dorazio, Todi. 

3. Piero Dorazio, conversation with Anna Costantini, February 13, 1994, 

4. Milton Gendel, "Nota dell'autore," in Milton Gendel. Fotographie del 
19^0 (Milton Gendel. Photographs of 1950), exhibition catalogue 
(Palermo: Sellerio, 1988), p. 12. 

5. Milton Gendel, Da margine a centro/The Margin Moves to the Middle 
(Rome: 2RC Edizioni d'arte, 1993), pp. 1, 7. 

6. Enzo Di Martino and Philip Rylands, Flying the Flag for Art. The 
United States and the Venice Biennale 1895—1991 (Richmond: 
Wyldbore & Wolferstan, 1993), pp. 83 — 97, 2 77 _ 79- 

7. Interview with Giuseppe Panza di Biumo by Christopher Knight, in 
Arte anni Sessanta/Settanta. Collezione Panza (Art of the sixties and 
seventies. The Panza collection. Milan: Jaca Book, 1988), pp. 18 — 19. An 
article on Kline, signed by the Roman artist Achille Perilli, appeared 
in Ciiilta delle macchine, no. 3 (May-June 1957). In the following issue 
the review devoted its cover to a work by Kline; this, according to 
Franchetti, "particularly marked the understanding of the American 
phenomenon in the artistic and cultural world of Rome." See 
Germano Celant and Anna Costantini, Roma -New York 1948-1964, 
trans. Joachim Neugroschel, exhibition catalogue (Milan: Charta, 
1993), p. 141. 

8. Toti Scialoja, conversation with Anna Costantini, February 13, 1993, 

9. Celant and Costantini, pp. 120-22. 

10. Leo Castelli to Piero Dorazio, August 9, {1958], Archivio Dorazio, 
Todi. The year is not indicated, but it can be traced through the 
letter's precise references to the 1958 Biennale. In the short time since 
his gallery had opened, Castelli had already presented the first solo 
exhibition of Jasper Johns in January and a show of Robert 
Rauschenberg's combines in March. De Martiis's Galleria La Tartaruga 
on via del Babuino, Rome had been open for four and a half years. 

11. Ibid. Castelli continued: 

Maurizio Calvesi and Rosa Siligato, eds., Roma anni '60. Al di la della 
pittura (Rome in the '60s. Beyond painting), exhibition catalogue 
(Rome: Edizioni Carte Segrete, 1990), p. 339. 

14. For the story of Ileana Sonnabend's activities, see Michel Bourel, 
"Les galeries d'lleana Sonnabend," in Collection Sonnabend, exhibition 
catalogue (Bordeaux: Musee d'Art Contemporain, 1988), especially 
pp. 11-30. 

15. See Germano Celant, ed., Pistoletto, exhibition catalogue (Milan and 
Florence: Electa, 1984), pp. 26-29, where Pistoletto recalled: 

And so I took a trip to Paris and relaxed a little. There I met Beppe 
Romagnoni. who told me about a gallery that showed strange, interesting 
paintings. So I went to the Sonnabend gallery. I asked to see these paintings, 
and thus I was able to see, for the first time, the paintings of Rauschenberg, 
Jasper Johns. Rosenquist, and Lichtenstein. and the sculptures of Segal and 
Chamberlain. They asked me if I was a critic and I replied: No. I'm an 
artist. When they asked what I did, I showed them the catalogue from the 
Galatea gallery and a painting. They took over the contract with Tazzoli, 
and an extremely important situation for me was begun: being projected into 
an international dimension, beyond the exclusively Turinese situation. 

16. Ida Gianelli, "Intervista a Gian Enzo Sperone," in Germano Celant, 
Paolo Fossati, and Ida Gianelli, Lhiavventura internazionale. Torino e le 
arti 1950 — 1970 (An international adventure. Turin and the arts 

1950 — 1970), exhibition catalogue (Milan and Rivoli: Charta/Castello di 
Rivoli, 1993), p. 170. 

17. Germano Celant, ed., Identite italienne. LArt en Italie depuis 1959 
(Italian identity. Art in Italy since 1959. Paris: Centre Georges 
Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, 1981), pp. 60-61, 119-21. 

18. Germano Celant, ed., Conceptual Art. Arte Povera, Land Art, 
exhibition catalogue (Turin: Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, 1970), 
p. 7. 

Perilli is good, but perhaps not autonomous enough yet. Certainly worth 
following. Turcato, like Capogrossi {whom Castelli had exhibited in New 
York a jew months earlier, in April}, probably wouldn't have much success 
in America at the moment. Scanavino, many of whose paintings I've seen at 
the Cavallnio. already has a physiognomy that is rather all his own. A hit 
solid, perhaps. Chighine, on the other hand, seemed less interesting to me. A 
bit too precious. I've been to see Vedova. . . . / like his painting a lot. I think 
that Vedova may be one of the most mature painters in Italy. Well, there you 
have very briefly a few of my fleeting and very incomplete impressions, from 
u fm 1 1 ) mi u ill have gathered that I haven V yet arrived at any final 
conclusion as to who would make up my group. Perhaps you've given it a 
littU thought yourself and have some ideas, . . . For the moment, the nucleus 
would seem to be Dorazio, Vedova, and Scanavino. As for Scarpitta. I have 
nt Inr plans, since his current works can no longer be called paintings. 

12. For Castelli's discovery ot Pop art through his friendship with 
Lichtenstein, see Ann Hindry, Claude Berri rencontre/meets Leo Castelli 
(Paris: Renn, 1990), pp. 101-03. 

13. According to de Martiis, "Mrs. Sonnabend came in i960 and we 
talked about running a gallery together in Rome. In 1961, she came for 
good with her new husband. 1 even found her an apartment on 
Passeggiata di Ripetta, and we began work together on the gallery. 
Things didn't go very well, however, and we split up after only a few 
months." See Federi( a Pirani, "Intervista a Plinio de Martiis," in 

38 Art 


Catalogue numbers 1 — 230 

Carta Accardi 

Afro {Afro Basaldella) 

Giovanni Anselmo 

Alighiero Boetti 

Alberto Burri 

Pier Paolo Calzolari 

Giuseppe CapOg 1 VS i 1 

Enrico Castellani 

Ettore Colla 

Piero Dorazio 

Luciano Fabro 

Tano Festa 

Lucio Fontana 

Domenico Gnoli 

Retiato Guttuso 

Jannis Kounellis 

Leoncillo (Leoncillo Leonardi) 

Francesco Lo Savio 

Piero Manzoni 

Marino Marini 

Fausto Melotti 

Mario Merz 

Marisa Merz 

Giulio Paolini 

Pino Pascali 

Giuseppe Penone 

t \ 1 ichelangelo Pi stole t tn 

Mimmo Rotella 

Mario Schifano 

Giulio Turcato 

Emilio Vedova 

Gilberto Zona 

1. Alberto Burri 

Catrame (TarA 1949. Oil, collage, 
tar, and pumice on canvas, S7 x 64 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

2. Alberto Burri 

Catrame II (Tar II;, 1949. Tar and 
ml on canvas. 4}. 5 x 50 cm. Courtesy of 
Galleria d'Arte Niccoli, Parma. 

3. Alberto Burri 

Composizione (Composition,). 1949. 
Oil and burlap on canvas, 67. 5 x 8} cm. 
Collection of Emtio Tersigni, Rome. 

4. Alberto Burri 

Rosso (Red;, i9<;o. Oil and pumice 

on canvas, 6j. 7 x $8.4 cm. Private 

5. Alberto Burri 

Gobbo (Hunchback), ip;o. Oil on 
textile with brackets, $7 x 64 cm. 
Galleria Nazionale a" Arte Moderna t 
Contemporanea, Rome. 

6. Giuseppe Capogrossi 

Superficie 67 (Surface 67). ioso. 
Oil on canvas, 210 x 86 cm. Galleria 
del Naviglio, Milan. 

7. Giuseppe Capogrossi 

Superficie 210 (Surface 210J. iptf. Oil 
on canvas, 206.7 x '59-4 <■'»'■ Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

8. Lucio Fontana 

Sculrura spaziale ("Spatial Sculpture;. 
1947. Bronze, sp cm high. Fondaziont 
Lucio Fontana, Milan. 

9. Lucio Fontana 

Ritratto di Teresita I Portrait of 
Tercsita;, 11)41). GLizal icnniin, 
70 x 4s x 51 cm. Collection oj Ten uta 
Fontana, Milan. 

\ ■ < £■: . " ~s. ta.i n 
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11. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept ). 
1949. Linen paper mounted en canvas, 
100 x 100 cm. Galleria Nazionalt 
J' Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, 

12. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept). 
1949. Linen paper mounted on canvas, 
100 x 100 cm. Kunstsammlung 
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf. 

• i 

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13. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept;. 
1949. Linen paper mounted on canvas, 
100 x wo cm. Collection ofTeresita 
Fontana, Milan. 







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14. Renato Guttuso 
Massacro d'agnelli 'Massacre of 
the Lambsy. 1947. Oil on canvas, 
os x 12) cm. Collection oj David 
\\, acane, Rome. 

15. Renato Guttuso 

Crocitissione fCrucifixionJ, 1941. 
Oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Galh via 
Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e 
Contemporanea, Rome. 

16. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

Madre romana uccisa dai tedeschi I 
("Roman Mother Killed by the 
Germans I), 1944. Polychrome ceramic, 
/? x so x 24 cm. Private collection. 


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17. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

Ritratto di Elsa (Portrait of Elsa*. 
1948. Polychrome majolica, jj x ss x 
55 cm. Regione dell' I ' mhrni and 
Comune di Spoleto, Gift 0} Elsa 
de Giorgi. 

18. Marino Marini 

Pomona. W4\ Bronze, 162 x 66 x 
sum- Museo Marino Marini, Florence. 

19. Marino Marini 

Piccolo cavaliere f Little Rider;. 1948. 
Polychrome plaster, 60 cm high. Museo 
Marino Marini, Florence. 

20. Fausto Melotti 

Dopoguerra (Postwar). 1946. Painted 
clay bas-relief, 44 x 9$ x 6 cm. 
Collection of Marta Melotti, Milan. 

21. Fausto Melotti 

Sol6 coi cerchi (Alone with the 
Circles,), 1944. Terra-cotta, 41 x 27 x 
19 cm. Private collection, Norara. 

22. Fausto Melotti 

Le mam (The Hands,), /v^y. Painted 
terra-cotta and brass, y \ 29 x9 cm. 
Collection ofCristina Melotti, 
New York. 

23. Giulio Turcato 
Rovine di Varsavia ( Ruins of 
Warsaw,). 1949. Oil on canvas, 90 x 
11$ cm. Anna D'Ascanio Gallery. 

24. Giulio Turcato 

Comizio ("Political Meeting,), ca. 1949. 
Oil on canvas, 145 x 200 cw. Collection 
of Anna D'Ascanw. Rome. 

25. Emilio Vedova 

La lotta-i (The Struggle- 1). 1949. 
Oil on canvas, 130. $ x 126 cm. Collect inn 
oj the artist, Venice. 

26. Emilio Vedova 

Europa '50 (Europe '50J. 1949-50. 
Oil on canvas, 12} x 126 cm. Galleria 
Internationale a" Arte Moderna 
Ca Pesaro. Venice. 

27. Afro [Afro Basaldello] 

Per una ricorrenza (For an 
Anniversar \lixed media on 

canvas, 149. 9 x iv<j. 7 cm. Solomon R. 

enheim Museum, Seu York, 
Gift. Mr. and Wrc Joseph Pulil er,Jr., 
St. Louis, 1958. 

28. Afro [Afro Basoldella] 

Volo di notte (Night Flight,), km~ 
Mixed media on canvas, 114 x 145.7cm. 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 
Neii York-. 

29. Alberto Burri 

Lo strappo (The RipJ. 19^2. Oil and 
canvas on canvas, 87 x y# cm. Collection 
of Beatrice Monti della Corte. 

30. Alberto Burri 

Bianco (White,). 1052. Oil, paper, and 
muslin on muslin, 100 x 86 cm. San 
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift 
of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Owings. 

31. Alberto Burri 

Grande sacco | Large Sack), 1953. 
Burlap, canvas, oil, and rope on canvas, 
144,1 x 2)0.1 cm. Tin Newark Museum, 
■ \lr. Stanley Joseph Seeger, 1977. 

32. Alberto Burri 

Sacco e bianco ("Sack and White,), 
19S3. Oil and burlap on canvas, 
14P x 249. S an. Musii National a" Art 
Moderne, Centn Georges Pompidou, 
Paris. Gift oj thi State, igj6. 

33. Alberto Burri 

Composizione (Composition,). 19$}. 
Burlap, oil, and gold on canvas, 
86 x 100 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York. 

34. Alberto Burri 

Sacco 1953 (Sackcloth 1953). 195}. 
Burlap sewn, patched, and glued over 
canvas. 86 x 100 cm. The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York, Mr. and Mrs. 
David Solinger Fund. 1954. 

35. Alberto Burri 

Sacco H8 (Sack H8). my Burlap, oil, 
and Vinavil on canvas, 86 x wo cm. 
Private collection. Italy. 

36. Alberto Burri 

Legno e bianco i (Wood and 
White i), i9s6. Combustion, oil, 
tempera, and wood on canvas, 87.6 x 
159. 1 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim 

m, Neu York. 

37. Alberto Burri 

Grande sacco: Congo Binga ("Large 
Sack: Congo Binga}, rps8. Found 
burlap, canvas, string, and oil medium 
on canvas, r$Sx2$6cm. The Museum oj 
Fine Arts, Hotnimi. Museum Purchase. 

38. Alberto Burri 

Grande ferro M4 < Large Iron M4A 
IPS9- Iron on wood frame, 200 x 188 cm. 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 
New York. 

39. Alberto Burri 

Grande legno combustione 

( Large Wood Combustion,), ig$8. 

Wood, acrylic, combustion, and Vinavil 

on canvas, 200 x 186. $ cm. Private 


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40. Alberto Burri 

Rosso nero (Red Black). 1955. Fabric, 
oil, and Vinavil on can fas, ioo x 86 cm. 
Private collection, Turin. 

41. Ettore Col la 

Orfeo ( Orpheus;. io0. Assemblagi oj 
found iron pit hi. 224 cm high. Gallt ria 
L'Isola, Rome. 

42. Ettore Colla 

Continuita (Continuity). 1951. Welded 
construction of five iron wheels, 242.8 x 
142.2 X 99 cm. The Museum 0/ Modern 
Art, New York, Purchase, 1961. 

43. Ettore Colla 

Concavo e convesso (Concave and 
Convex;. ips7- Assemblagt of found 
iron pieces, 71x86 cm. Collection of 
AchilU and Ida Maramotti, Albinea. 

44. Ettore Colla 

Rilievo con bulloni < Relief 
with Bolts), 1957-59. Assemblage 
of found iron pieces, q(> x n? 1 m. 
Galleria Nazionale d'Artt Moderna 1 
Contemporanea, Rome. 

45. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Crocifissione 

(Spatial Concept. Ctucifixion). 19^4. 

J media on particle board, 
1-6 x i2< cm. Civico Museo d'Arti 
Contemporanea, Collezione Boschi di 
., Milan. 

46. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept;. 
1956. Mixed media on canvas, 12$ x 
90 cm. Private collection, Milan. 

47. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept,). 
1956. Mixed undid on particle board, 
9S x 175 cm. Civico Museo d'Arte 
Contemporanea, Collezione Boschi di 
Stefano, Milan. 

48. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale 'Spatial Concept,*. 
tg^S. Ink- and collage on unprimed 
canvas, i6$x 127cm. Collection oj 
ta Fontana, Milan. 

49. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Forma (Spatial 
Concept. Form,). 1957. Aniline, collage, 
and ink on annas, iso x iso cm. 
Fondazione Lucio Fontana. Mi Lin. 

50. Lucio Fontanel 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept,), 
ip$8. Iron. 243 cm high. Collection of 
Teresitci Fontana, Milan. 

51. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept). 
IPS/. Painted iron. 174 cm high. 
1 M- Musee J' Art Contemporain, 



52. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Attese ("Spatial 
Concept. Expectations^. 1958. 
Aniline on annus with slashes and 

100 x i}o cm. Fondaziont Lucio 
Fontana, Milan. 

53. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Attese f Spatial 
Concept. Expectations;. /pjtf. 
Aniline on canvas with slashes and 
holes, 98 x i}<;cm. Fondazione Lucio 
Fontana, Milan. 

54. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Natura (Spatial 
Concept. Nature,), 19S9-60. />' 

diameter. Collection oj Teresita 
Fontana, Milan. 

55. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Natura (Spatial 
Concept. Nature;. 1959-60. Bnm e, 
60 cm diameter. Collection oj Teresita 
Fontana, Milan. 

57. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. I quanta 
("Spatial Concept. The Quanta,), i960. 
Emulsion on canvas with dashes; nint 
canvases, dimensions variable. 
Collection oj Teresita Fontana, Milan. 

56. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. Natura (Spatial 
Concept. Nature,). 1959-60. Bronze, 
diameter. Collection of Teresita 
Fontana, M//.11/. 


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58. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

Vento rosso CRed WindA 1958. Terra- 
cotta and 1 namel, 2s x 196 x 106 cm. 
Collection of FabioSargentini, R 

59. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

Tu^lio bianco (White Cut;. 19^9- 
Glazed tt rra-cotta, 151 x 106 x 20 cm. 

Private col Let ion. 

60. Giulio Turcato 

Grande reticolo f Large Network). 
I9S4- Oil on canvas, 196 x 130 cm. 
Collection nf Amedeo Cocchi, Milan. 

61. Giulio Turcato 

Deserto dei Tartar! (Desert of the 
Tartars). 1956. Oil on canvas, 186 x 
260 cm. Private collection, Rome. 

62. Giulio Turcato 

Deserto dei Tartari i Desert of the 
Tartars,/. 1956. Oil on canvas, 160 x 
240 cm. Privati collection, Rome. 

63. Giulio Turcato 

Cio che si vede (That Winch Can 

Be Seenj. if>s6. Oil on canvas, i')6 \ 

130cm. Collection oj Amedeo Cocchi, 


64. Emilio Vedova 

Dal ciclo della protesca 1956—3 
( Brasile, lzI 1 uomini 1 
/From the 1956 Protest Cycle-3 
[Brazil, The Red Men};. 1956. 
Oil on canvas, 200 x 90 cm. 
Civico Wiiseo Revoltella, Trieste. 

65. Emilio Vedova 

Dal ciclo clell.i protesta 1953—3 
(Per non dimenticare) (From the 
1953 Protest Cycle-3 [So as Not to 
Forget}J. ig$}. Oil on canvas, 200 x 
go cm. Collection 0] Sim Abramo, 

66. Emilio Vedova 

Dal ciclo della protesra 1953—7 
(Sedia elettrica) (From the 1953 
Protest Cycle— 7 [Elec trie Chair]), 
ipfj. Oil on canvas, 208 x 8p cm. 
Collection nj Antonio Caruana. 

Following two pages: 
67. Emilio Vedova 

Scontro di sicuazioni I 1 

i( (inilu cing Sii 11 ir ions I 1 1, 
i>/\i). Oil on canvas, .•-» » 1 /■, ' m. 
Privatt collection. 







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68. Emilio Vedova 

Absurdes Berliner Tagebuch '64, 
Plurimo N. 5/7 ( Absurd Berlin 
Diary '64, Plurimo No. 5/7,). 1964 
(open view). Oil and mixed media 
on wood with iron binges, pulley, and 
ropes, $84 x 260 x 90 cm (open). 
Collection of the artist, \ enice. 

69. Emilio Vedova 

Ciclo '62-B.B.9 (Cycle '62-B.B.9;, 
1062. Oil on canvas, 140 \ 250.5 cm. 
Privati collection. 

70. Carlo Accardi 

Rotoli (Rolls). 1965-68. Varnish on 
Sicofoil, dimension* leviable. Collection 
of the artist. Rome. 



\ \ 

71. Carla Accardi 

Grande inte^jrazione (Large 
Integrations iptf. Casein tempera 
on canvas, 133 x 265cm. Ch M 
d'Arh Contemporanea, Milan. 



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72. Carlo Accardi 

Losanghe rossoverde ("Red-Green 
LozengesJ. 1964. Casein tempera on 
canvas, 194 x }$$ cm. Collection of 
thi artist, Rome. 

73. Alberto Burn 

Combustione (Combustion,). 196). 
Plastic and 1 ombustion, 199 x 248 cm. 

Collection of the artist. 

74. Alberto Burri 

Plastica 4 ("Plastic 4), 1962. Plastic 
and combustion on aluminum stretcher. 
100 x 86 cm. Collection of the artist. 

75. Alberto Burri 

Rosso plastica 1 Red Plastii I, 
1964. Plastic, Vinavil, and combustion 
on canvas, 200 x 190 cm. Galleria 
Na ionalt d'Arti Moderna t 
(..mill mporanea, Rome. 

76. Enrico Castellani 

Senza citolo fl'nncled). 1961. Fabric 
on stretcher frame, 75 x 100 x 8 cm. 
Collection of Henk Peeters, HjII. 

77. Enrico Castellani 

Superhae gialla (Yellow Surface,). 
196$. Tempera on canvas, 146 \ 120 cm. 
Privatt collection, Milan. 

78. Enrico Castellani 

Superficie bianca, n. 5 (White 
Surface No. $), 1964. Tempera on 
canvas. 114 x 146 x $o cm. Private 
collection, Foligno. 

79. Enrico Castellani 

Senza titolo (Untitled), 19^9. 
Tempera on canvas. 114 x 14s cm. 
Private collection, Rome. 

80. Ettore Colla 

Rilievo policromo < Polychrome 
Relief;. 1958-60. Assei found 

iron pieces. 56 x 80 cm. Gallt via 
L'Isola. R 

81. Ettore Col la 

Rilievo legno e ferro (Wood and 
Iron Reliefs. 1961. Assemblage of iron 
and wood. 121 x 11$ cm. Galleria 
L'Isola. Rome. 

82. Ettore Colla 

Le chiavi di Pietro fSt. Peter's Keys'. 
1962. Assemblage of found iron pieces, 
132 cm high. Pruate collection, 
Greenwich. Connecticut. 

83. Ettore Colla 

Spirale fSpiralj, 1962, Iron, 

101 cm high. Galleria Comunah d'Artt 

Moderna, Spoleto, Ciijt of Giovanni 

Carandente, Honorary Curator. 

84. Piero Dorazio 

Georgicon. ig$8. Oil on canvas, 197 x 
ijo cm. Collection rtist. 

85. Piero Dorazio 

Tantalo T. /yrt'-^. Oil on canvas, 
160 x 1 jo cm. Collection of the artist. 


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86. Piero Dorazio 

Mythification. 1962. Oil on canvas, 
i$o x 160 cm. Col ltd urn of the artist. 

87. Piero Dorazio 

Mano della clemenza f Hand of 
Mercy,). 196). Oil on canvas, 162.6 x 
130.3 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York, Bertram F. and Susie 
Brummer Foundation Fund, 106$. 

88. Piero Dorazio 

Long Distance, 1963. Oil on canvas, 
185 x 2$o cm. Private collection. 

New York. 

89. Luciano Fabro 

Struttura ortogonale tirata ai quattro 
vertici (Orthogonal Structure Pulled at 
Four Vertices,). 1964. Polished brass 
tubing, 88 x 188 x } cm. Collection of the 
artist, Milan. 

91. Luciano Fabro 

Buco (Hole,). 1963. Mirrored, transparent 
glass and metal; glass: wf x 84 cm; 
stand: no x 8/ cm. Collection of Agostino 
and Patrizia Re Rebandengo. Turin. 

90. Luciano Fabro 

Ruota fWheeO. 1964. Steel tubing, so x 

1 x 142 cm. Collection of the artist. Milan. 

92. Tano Festa 

La porta rossa (The Red DoorJ, 1962. 
Enamel on wood, 200 x 100 cm. 
Collection of Giorgio Franchetti, Rome. 

93. Tano Festa 

Obelisco (Obelisk,!, 1963. Enamel on 
wood, 116 x 89 cm. Collection of Giorgio 
Franchetti, Rome. 

94. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. La Genesi (Spatial 
Concept. Genesisj. 1963. Oil and 

graffiti on canvas with slashes, 178 x 
123 cm. Private collection. Milan. 


95. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio 
f Spatial Concept. The End of God A 
196}. Oil on canvas with slashes and 
holes, 178 x 12} cm. Private collection. 

96. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio 
f Spatial Concept. The End of GodJ, 
196). Oil and glitter on canvas with 
slashes and holes, 178 x 123 cm. Private 
collection. Prato. 

97. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio 
(Spatial Concept. The End of Godj. 
1963. Oil and graffiti on canvas with 
slashes and holes, 178 x 12} cm. 
Collection ofTeresita Fontana. Milan. 

98. Domenico Gnoli 

Dormiente n. 2 (Sleeper No. 2). 
1966. Oil and sand on canvas, 85 x 
70 cm. Collection of Jan and Marie- 
Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, courtesy of 
Galeae Jan Krugier, Geneva. 

99. Domenico Gnoli 

Tavole di ristorante (Restaurant 
Tables). 1966. Oil and sand on canvas, 
ISO x 160 cm. Collection of Jan and 
Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 
courtesy of Galeae Jan Krugier, 



i / 


100. Domenico Gnoli 

Giro di collo 15' : (Neck Size is' i), 
1966. Oil and sand on canvas, 120 x 
160 cm. Krugier-Ditesheim Art 
Contemporain, Geneva. 

101. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo (Untitled,), 1959-60. 
Oil on canvas, 12$ x 20$ cm. Collection 
of Nicola Bulgari. New York. 

102. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo ('Untitled,), 1959-60. 
Tempera on graph paper mounted on 
canvas, i}6 x 254.9 cm- The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York. Purchase. 

103. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo (Notte) (Untitled 
[Night],). ig6^. Oil on canvas, 120 x 
180 cm. Galerie Neuendorf, Frankfurt. 

104. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo (Giallo) f Untitled 
[Yellow] A 196$. Oil on canvas, 188 x 
226 cm. Private collection. 

105. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

San Sebastiano I (Saint Sebastian I), 
1962. Glazed terra-cotta, 192 x 60 x 
4$ cm. Collection of Fabio Sargentint. 

106. Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi] 

San Sebastiano II (Saint Sebastian IIJ, 
1962. Glazed terra-cotta, 190 x $2 x 
40 cm. Collection of Fabio Sargentini, 

107. Francesco Lo Savio 

Spazio-luce (Space-LighrJ, i9Sf>- 
Synthetic resin on canvas, itfx 170 cm. 
Collection ofGian Tomaso Liverani, 
Galleria La Salita, R 

108. Francesco Lo Savio 

For nothing, i960. Synthetic resin on 

canvas, iss x ijj cm. Collection oj Gian 
Tomaso Liverani, Galltria La Salita. 

109. Francesco Lo Savio 

Metallo nero opaco uniforme 
(Uniform Opaque Black Metal;. 
i960. Varnished black sheet metal. 100 x 
200 x 20 cm. Collection ofGian Tomaso 
Liverant. Galleria La Salita, Rome. 

110. Francesco Lo Savio 

Metallo nero opaco uniforme, 
articolazione di superficie orizzontale 
(Uniform Opaque Black Metal, 
Horizontal Surface Articulation), 
i960. Varnished black sheet metal. 
9$ x 200 x 20 cm. Collection ofGian 
Tomaso Liverani, Galleria La Salita, 

111. Francesco Lo Savio 

Articolazione totale ('Total 
Articulation^. 1962. Cement and 
varnished black sheet metal. 100 x 100 x 
100 cm. Collection ofGian Tomaso 
Liverani, Galleria La Salita. Rome. 

112. Piero Manzoni 

Alfabeto (Alphabet,), ig$8. Ink and 
kaolin on canvas, 2$ x iS cm. Collection 
ofAngelo Calmarini, Milan. 

113. Piero Manzoni 

1-30 settembre ("September 1-30). 
1959. Ink on paper, 6$ x so cm. 
Collection ofAngelo Calmarini, Milan. 















1 UNI 1 


















11 12 13 14 15 



16 17 18 19 20 



21 22 23 24 25 

MiiroiiCH ciovioi vENiin 'saiato dominica 


26 27 28 29 30 


114. Piero Manzoni 

Achrome, ips9- Kaolin on creased 
canvas, 140 x 120.$ cm. Musee National 
if Art Moderne, Centre Georges 
Pompidou, Paris, 1981. 

115. Piero Manzoni 

Achrome, 1958. Kaolin on creased 
canvas, 130 x 160 cm. Galleria Civica 
J' Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, 


116. Piero Manzoni 

Achrome. I9S9- Kaolin on sewn canvas, 
130. s x 97.6 cm. Herning Kunstmuseum. 

117. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 7200, 4 luglio i960 
(Line 7200 m, July 4, i960), i960. 
Ink oupapcr in lead cylinder; cylinder. 
66 cm high. 96 cm diameter. Herning 

118. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 6, settembre 1959 

(Line 6 m, September 1959,). 19S9- Ink 

on paper in cardboard i ylindi r; 

cylinder: 2$. 8 cm high, 6 cm diameter. 

Collection of the Manzoni family, 








119. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 10.06, settembre 1959 
(Line 10.06 m, September 1959J, I9S9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
cylinder: 22. 8 cm high. 6 cm diameter. 
Collection ofArturo Schwarz, Milan. 

120. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 15.78, settembre 1959 
(Line 15.78 m, September 1959J. 1959. 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
cylinder: 22 cm high. 6 cm diameter. 
Collection of Giuseppe Zecchillo, Milan. 

' ,ER0 MANZONI LE °/f<j 

' hl ft, }f metre: long 

121. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 19.11, settembre 1959 
(Tine 19. 11 m, September 1959/. io<;g. 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
O Under: 26. <; cm high. 7 cm diami ft r. 
Collection of the Manzoni f ami I). 

122. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 0.78, ottobre 1959 
(Line 0.78 m, October 1959A io<;g. 
hit on paper in cardboard t ylinder, 
cylinder: is.: , m hi diameter. 

Courtesy ofHirschl& Adler Modern, 
N 1 u i 





L| NE 0. f$ METRES LONt 

123. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 4.51, ottobre 1959 
(Tine 4.51 m, October 1959;. W9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder, 
cylinder: 21 cm high, 6 cm diameter. 
Collection of Achille and Ida 
Maramotti, Albinea. 

124. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 5.10, ottobre 1959 
(Line 5.10 m, October 1959J, 1959, 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder, 
dimensions unknown. Private collection. 





Valine fyc metres long 


125. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 33.63, ottobre 1959 
(Line 33.63 m, October 1959,). 19$9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard o lindt r; 
cylinder: 41 cm high, 8.$ cm diameter. 
Collection of Angela Calmarini, Milan. 

126. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. [1.94, novembre [959 
("Line 11.94 m, November [959I 
Ink on paper in cardboards ylinder; 
i ylinder: it>. ./ 1 m high, 6 1 m diameter. 
Collection of Angelo < almarini, Milan. 








127. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 4.50, dicembre 1959 
(Line 4.50 m, December 1959A I9S9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
cylinder. 22 cm high, 6 cm diameter. 
Collection of At till Codognato, Venice. 

128. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 8.25, dicembre 1959 
(Line 8.25 m, December 1959). I9S9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
cylinder: 22. 7 cm high. 6 cm diameter. 
Collection of Angela Calmanni. Milan. 

129. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 9.24, dicembre 1959 
(Line 9.24 m, December 1959J. ips9- 
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder; 
cylinder: 22 cm high. 6 cm diameter. 
Collection of Angelo Calmarini. Milan. 

130. Piero Manzoni 

Linea m. 10, cIk 1 mbre [959 
("Line 10 m, I )e< embec 1959 . 
Ink on pa per in cardboard cylinder; 
1) Under: 22, s 1 m high, f. 1 < m diamett r. 
Collection ofGHU n and Lila 
Silverman, Detroit. 

131. Piero Manzoni 

Linea di lunghezza infinita (Line of 
Infinite Lengths i960. Ink on paper 
in wood cylinder, cylinder: is cm high, 
4. 8 cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family, Milan. 

132. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. ooi ( Artist's Shit 
No. ooij. 1961. Metal can. 4. 8 cm high, 
6. s cm dm meter. Collection of Nan da 
Vigo. Milan. 

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133. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 004 (Artist's Shit 
No. 004J. 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6. sew diameter. Private collection. 

134. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. on (Artist's Shit 
No. 01 1). 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6.scm diameter. Private collection. 

135. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 014 (Artist's Shit 
No. 014), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high, 
6. s cm diameter. Private collection. 

136. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 020 (Artist's Shit 
No. 020J, 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6. sew diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family. Milan. 

137. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 021 (Artist's Shit 
No. 021 ), 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6. sew diameter. Collection of Danielle 
and Francois Morellet. Cholet. 

138. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 023 (Artist's Shit 
No. 023J, 1961. Metal can. 4. 8 cm high. 
6. sew diameter. Collection of Gilbert 
and Lila Silverman. Detroit. 

139. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 030 (Artist's Shit 
No. 030J. 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6-s cm diameter. Collection of 

140. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 031 (Artist's Shit 
No. 03 1), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6. s cm diameter. Muse'e National 
J' Art Moderne. Centre Georges 
Pompidou. Paris. Gift of the Galerie 
Ditrand-Dessert. 1994. 

141. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 033 (Artist's Shit 
No. 033I, 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6. s cm diameter. Hernmg 

142. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 038 (Artist's Shit 
No. 038 ), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6-s cm diameter. Collection of Angela 
Calmarini, Milan. 

143. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 042 (Artist's Shit 
No. 04,1), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection ofNanda 
Vigo. Milan. 

144. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 047 (Artist's Shit 
No. 047J, 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6.$ cm diameter. Collection of Attilio 
Codognato, Venice. 

145. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 050 (Artist's Shit 
No. 050J, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high, 
6. s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family. Milan. 

146. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 053 (Artist's Shit 
No. 05 }), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6. s cm diameter. Private collection, 

147. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 055 (Artist's Shit 
No. 055J, 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high, 
6. <; ( m diameter. Collection of the 
■■in family, Milan. 

148. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 058 (Artist's Shit 
No. 058J, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family. Milan. 

149. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 060 (Artist's Shit 
No. 060 ), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of Giuseppe 
Zecchillo. Milan. 

150. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 063 (Artist's Shit 
No. 063J, 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high, 
6. s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family, Milan. 

151. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 066 (Artist's Shit 
No. 066,), 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6. 5 cm diameter. Collection of Danielle 
and Francois Morellet, Cholet. 

152. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 068 (Artist's Shit 
No. 068), 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6. s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family. Milan. 

153. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 072 (Artist's Shit 
No. 072J, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of Giuseppe 
Zecchillo. Milan. 

154. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 076 (Artist's Shit 
No. 076 J, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high, 
6.s cm diameter. Collection ofNanda 
Vigo. Milan. 

155. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 078 (Artist's Shit 
No. 078). 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family, Milan. 

156. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 079 (Artist's Shit 
No. 079A 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high, 
6-s cm diameter. Courtesy ofGalleria 
Minim. Brescia. 

157. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 080 (Artist's Shit 
No. 080J, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of the 
Manzoni family, Milan. 

158. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 084 (Artist's Shit 
No. 084,1, '9 6l Metal can, 4.8 cm high, 
6.s cm diameter. Collection of Lucio 
Amelio, Naples. 

159. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 086 (Artist's Shit 
No. 086;, 1961. Metal can. 4.8 cm high. 
6-s cm diameter. Collection ofVanni 
Scheiwiller, Milan. 

160. Piero Manzoni 

Merda d'artista n. 088 (Artist's Shit 
No. 088,), 1961. Metal can, 4.8 cm high. 
6.s cm diameter. Collection ofNanda 
Vigo. Milan. 




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161. Piero Man ion i 

Achrome, 1961. I , 82 x 6$ cm. 

Collection of Rosangela Cochrane. 

162. Piero Manzoni 

Nua^e (Achrome) (Cloud {Achrome],). 
it/(> 1. fihi rglass, 9$. 5 x 84. s x 21. j 1 m. 
Collection of Gccrtj.11/ Visser. 

163. Piero Manzoni 

Nuage (Achrome) (Cloud (Ac hrome],), 
11)62. "Fiberglass, ijox 110x2/ cm. 
Krb'ller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, 

17m Xit/M-rLiut/s. 

7 ^ 

164. Piero Manzoni 

Achrome, iybi. Rabbit fur and skin: 
4< \ i m diameter; burnt-u 
46.9 x 46.9 x 46. •> 1 m. Ih rning 

165. Piero Manzoni 

Achrome. m6i. Stwiu and kaolin: 
68.3 x 45.8 x 44.5 cm; wood base: w.<;x 
<ji.$x so.6 cm. Herning Kunstmuseum. 

166. Piero Manzoni 

Base- del Mbndo (Base of the Worlds 
1961. Iron an J bronze, 82 x 100 x 
wo cm. Herning Kunstmuseum. 

167. Fausto Melotti 
Josephine Baker. 1962. Brass 
and bronze, >j \ 10 x hum. Privati 
collect Km. Neu 

168. Fausto Melotti 

La casa dell'orologiaio ("The 
Watchmaker's House;, i960. Brass, 
us x 57 x 16 i '" / - Melotti Collection, 

169. Fausto Melotti 

II magazzino delle idee (The 
Warehouse of Ideas), i960. Brass, 
106 x }o x if cm. Collation oj Cristina 
AUlotti, New York. 

170. Fausto Melotti 

[ncendio bianco (White Firei, 1961. 
Painted terra-cotta, paper, cotton, 
glazed ceramic, and pumice, 49 x $9 x 
11 cm. Collection of Attorney Mario 
D'Urso. Runn. 

171. Fausto Melotti 

La vita a pezzi f Life in Pieces), 1961. 
Painted terra-cotta, brass, and bronze, 
ss x 49 x 13 cm. Privatt collection, 


172. Fausto Melotti 

II viaggio (The Journey,), 1961. 
Brass, bronze, and painted wood, 
210 x 100 x is cm. Collection of 
Mart* Melotti, Milan. 

173. Fausto Melotti 

Reti (Nets>, 1961. Brass, 101 x 37 x 
16 cm. Private collection, Milan. 

174. Fausto Melotti 

Gli stracci (The Rags,), io6j. Paiutul 
terra-cotta, fabric, brass, and glazed 
ceramic, 60 x 34 x 14 cm. Collection of 
Roberto Antonini. Novam. 

175. Fausto Melotti 
Gli oggetti ("The Objects,), wfi^. 
Painted terra-cotta, 40 x 28 x gem. 
Collection oj Marta Melotti, Milan. 

176. Fausto Melotti 

II pittore (The PamtcrJ. iy6i-66. 
Brass, 120 x 2$ x 28 cm. Melotti 
Collection, Milan. 

177. Fausto Melotti 

La pioggia (The Rain/ 1966-72. 
Brass, 180 x 105 x 60 cm. Fondo Rivetti 
per l' Arte. Turin. 


178. Fausto Melotti 

Alu tome- presto stridono i venti, 
misti alia fredda pioggia autunnal . . . 
(da un duetto di Mendelssohn) (Oh 
How Quickly the Winds Screech, 
Mixed with the Cold Autumnal 
Rain . . . [from a Mendelssohn duet],), 
1966. Brass. 240 x sy x u cm. Privati 
(dilution. Milan. 

179. Fausto Melotti 

Uomini (Mem. 1966. Brass, mx 41 x 

24 cm. Privati collection, \m ) 

180. Giulio Poolini 
Senza titolo (Untitled^, 1962—6). 
Canvas and wood. $0 x 60 cm. 
Collection oj Rosangela Cochrane. 

182. Giulio Paolini 

2200/H, 1965. Drawing on 
photographic silkscreen print, i2<; x 

011 1 111. Private collection. 

181. Giulio Paolini 

E. 196). Printed reproduction on 
Masonite, mounted on wood frame. 
26 x 10 cm. Collection oj the artist. 



Left: 183. Giulio Paolini 

Deltb (DelphU, 1965. Photographic 
silkscreen print. 180 x ps cm. Collection 
of Rosangela Cochrane. 

184. Giulio Paolini 

Monogramma (Monogram,), 1965. 
Canvas, 172 x ^8 cm. Private collection. 


185. Pino Pascali 
Colosseo (Colosseum/. 1964. Enamel 
on canvas and cloth, mounted on u ood, 
1/0 x 220 cm. Privatt collection, Italy. 

186. Pino Pascali 
Labbra rosse omaggio .1 Billie 
Holiday (Red Lips: Homage to Billie 
Holiday). 1964. Enamel on canvas, 
mounted on wood, 164 \ 120 x22 cm. 
Galleria Civica d'Arti Moderna < 
Contemporanea, Turin. 

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187. Pino Pascal! 
Contraerea (Antiaircraft Artillerj I, 
ig6s. Found objects, i-o x vs x 130 cm. 
Collection <>/ Giorgio Franchetti, Rome. 

188. Pino Pascali 

Mitragliatrice ( Mac hine ( run I, 196$, 
Wood, \crap metal, and varnish, 140 \ 
12$ x 68 cm. Galleria Gian I n 
Sperone, Rome. 

189. Pino Pascali 

Cannone "Bella Ciao" I" Bella Ciao" 
Cannon;, 196^ Wood, metal, found 

rs. and varnish. i<;o x 130 x 450 cm. 
Collection of Fa bio Sargentini, Rome. 



190. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Uomo di schiena. II presence i Man 
Seen from the Back. The Present;. 
1961. Varnish, acrylic, and oil on 
canvas, 200 x 150 1 m Collectiot 
Romilda Bollati. 

191. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Persona di schiena (Person Seen from 
the Backj. K/62. Painted tissue paper 
on polished stainless Heel, 200 x 120 cm. 

(j>1 La urn af tin artist. 

192. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Donna seduta di spalle (Seated 
WomanJ. 1962—63. Painted tissui 
paper on polished ttainh fj it eel, 
220 x 120 cm. Sonnabend Colin tion. 



193. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Scultura lignea (Wood Sculpture;. 
iy6$-66. Wood and Plexiglas, wo x 
10X2fcm. AC. P. Collection. Turin. 

194. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Paesaggio (Oggetu in meno) 
(Landscape [Minus Objects],). 196^. 
Cardboard box with colored paper, rags, 
and creche figurines, jo x 40 x 20 cm. 
A.C.P. Collection, Turin. 

195. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Stera di giornali (Mappamondo) 
(Oggetti in mennl /Sphere or 
Newspapers [Globe] [Minus 
Objects];. 1966-6S. Pressed newspaper 
a 11J iron rods, 1S0 cm diameter. 
Courtesy of Lia Rumma. 


196. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Rosa bruciata (Oggetti in meno) 
("Burnt Rose [Minus Objects]). 196s. 
Corrugated burnt cardboard and 
sprayed varnish, 140 x 140 x wo cm. 
A.C.P. Collection. Turin. 

197. Mimmo Rotella 

La tigre fThe Tiger,/. 1962. Decollage, 
108 x64 cm. Collection of Gior^ 

Francbctti. Rome. 

198. Mimmo Rotella 

Sua maesta la Regina (Her Majesty 
the Queen ). 1062. Decollage, 136 x 
vi cm. Collection of Giorgio Franchetti, 


199. Mimmo Rotella 

Mitologia (Mythology,), /ytf-'. 
Dkollage, 164 x 190 cm. Oil Lit ion 0) 
Giorgio Marconi, Milan. 


— p- 1 1 » = 1 1 <*k- 

200. Mario Schifano 

A Dc Chirico (To De China),/. 1962 
Enamel on papt ''■ mounted on canvas, 
1 -a x i$o cm. Sonnabend Collection. 

201. Mario Schifano 

Tempo moderno (Modern Times,). 
W62. Enamel on paper, mounted on 
canvas, 180 x 180 cm. Sonnabend 

202. Giovanni Anselmo 

Torsione (Contortion I. 1968. Iron and 
flannel, 230 x 186 x 30 cm. Sonnabend 

(,nl Li turn. 

203. Giovanni Anselmo 

Direzione (Direction;, 1967—70. Ruck, 
compass, and glass. 17 x 22s x 8} cm. 
Sonnabend Collection. 

204. Giovanni Anselmo 

Struttura che mangia l'insalata 
(Structure That Eats Salad/ 1968. 
Granite, salad, copper wire, and 
sawdust, 65 x 30 x 30 cm. Sonnabend 


205. Alighiero Boetti 

Colonna tubi PVC (Column PVC 
Tubes,), 1966. PVC tubes, 280 cm high, 
160 cm diameter. Christian Stun 
Gallery, Turin-Milan. 

206. Alighiero Boetti 

Mimetico (Mimetic,), if 66. 
Camouflage fabric, 249.5 x 348.6 cm. 
Courtesy of Salvatore Ala Gallery. 
New York. 

207. Pier Paolo Calzolari 

Oroscopo come progetto della mia 
vita ("Horoscope as a Project for My 
Life,). 1968. Lead and freezing unit, 
_j2y x }86 cm. Fondo Rivetti per I 'Arte. 

208. Pier Paolo Calzolari 

Un fiauto dolce per farmi suonare 
(A Dulcet Flute for Me to Play,). 
i?68. Lead and freezing unit, 46 x 
88 cm. Collection of Pier Luigi Pen, 
Radda in Chianti. 

209. Luciano Fabro 

Piede (Toot,). 1968-71. Brittania 
metal and silk, 420 x 163 x 15s cm. 
Private collection, courtesy of Laura 
Carpenter Fine Art, Santa Fe. 

210. Luciano Fabro 

Piede (Toot,), 1968-71. Colaticcio 
marble and silk sock, 300 x no x 70 cm. 
Christian Stein Gallery, Turin-Milan. 

211. Luciano Fabro 

Tre modi di mettere le lenzuola 
(Three Ways to Make the Bed). 1968. 
Cotton and wool: three sheets, each 200 x 
250 cm. Collection of the artist, Milan. 

212. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo (Untitled,), 1967. Iron 
structure with burning gas flame, 
100 cm diameter. Co/lection of Mario 
Pieroni, Rome. 


213. Jannis Kounellis 

Senza titolo (Untitled), ip6/. Seven 
cacti and enameled iron, 170 x }6o x 
200 cm. KrSller-Miiller Museum, 
Otterlo. The Netherlands. 


214. Mario Merz 

Igloo di Giap. Se il nemico si 
concentra perde terreno se si disperde 
perde forza fGiap Igloo. If the Enemy 
Masses His Forces He Loses Ground; 
If He Scatters, He Loses Strength), 
1968. Wire mesh, sacks of earth, neon, 
and batteries. 120 x 200 cm. 
Muse'e National a" Art Moderne, Centre 
Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1082. 

215. Mario Merz 

Teatro cavallo ( Horse Theater,), 1967. 
Plastic tube and neon tube, 250 x 
}oo x so cm. Private collection. Milan, 
courtesy ofSperone Westwater, 
New York. 

216. Mario Merz 

Impermeabile (Raincoatj, ic/67. 
Raincoat, wax, wood, and neon tube, 
125 x 170 x 40 cm. Christian Stein 
Gallery. Turin-Milan. 

217. Marisa Merz 

Cerchio ( Circle;, 1968. Nylon 
thread, dimensions, variable. 
Collection of the artist. 






218. Marisa Merz 

Bea. 1968. Nylon thread, 9' x no x 

if cm. Col hit ion of the artist. 


219. Marisa Merz 

Scarpette (Little Shoes). 1968. Nylon 
thread, dimensions unknown. Collection 
of the artist. 

220. Giulio Paolini 

Diaframma 8 f Diaphragm 8J, 196$. 

Photographic silkscreen print, 

80 x 90 cm. Collection of Rosangela 


221. Giulio Paolini 

D867. 196J. Photographic silkscreen 
print, 80 x 90 cm. Collection of 
Rosangela Cochrane. 

| J II 

^* ^1 


222. Giulio Paolini 

Averroe (Averroes), 1967. Fifteen flags, 

steel pole, and brass ornament, 

180 cm high. Collection of the artist, 


223. Pino Pascal! 

Ponte levatoio (Drawbridge,). 1968. 
Steel wool on wood and wire structure, 
220 x 120 cm. Collection of Fabio 
Sargentini. Rome. 

!4. Pino Pascali 

nte (Bridge), 1968. Steel wool woven 
metal structure, 800 cm long, 
llection of Fabio Sargentini. Rome. 

Below: 225. Giuseppe Penone 

Ho intrecciato fra loro tre alberelli 
d Wound between Them Three 
Trees;. 1968-78. Tree trunk: one of 
three tree trunks from the installation 
Tre alberi (Three Trees/. 323 x 35 x 
8s cm. Collection of Liliane and Michel 
Durand-Dessert, Paris. 

226. Giuseppe Penone 

Senza titolo (Untitled/ 1968. Six 
photographs, each 70 x 50 cm. 
Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, 
New York. 


227. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Pietra miliare (Milestone), 1967. 
Stone, 80 cm high, 40 cm diameter. 
Collection of the artist. 

228. Michelangelo Pistoletto 

Venere degli stracci ( Venus of the 
Rags), 1967. Reproduction of a classical 
Venus, mica, and rags, dimensions 
variable. Collection ofTommaso and 
Giuliana Setari, Milan. 





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229. Gilberto Zorio 

Letto I Bed i. 1966. Metal tubes, rubber, 
and lead plate, 100 x 220 x 220 cm. 
Collection of the artist. Turin. 

230. Gilberto Zorio 

Tenda (TentJ. 1967. Dalmine tubes, 
fabric, and seawater, ijo x 120 x 
120 cm. Collection of the artist. Turin. 


■ ■ 



The Revival of Glass 
and Ceramics 

Micaela Martegani Luini 

the intoxicating heat of this primal element, the creator 
moves with assurance, limbs and mind focused upon the 
imposing task of bending matter to human will. The use of 
fire in working with glass — a formless, incandescent 
substance that flutters at the end of a blowpipe as it is 
shaped — or with clay — a handful of insignificant earth 
mixed with water that suddenly comes to life when it is 
molded — is a testimony to the undying human ambition 
to create. Italy boasts an important tradition in both of 
these very ancient crafts. Both have had long periods of 
splendor, but by the nineteenth century they had been 
reduced to mere eclectic virtuosity for its own sake, 
characterized by the repetition of age-old motifs. 

The Italian glassmaking industry, centered primarily on 
the tiny Venetian island of Murano, began to blossom 
around the middle of the fifteenth century. In the early 
sixteenth century many of the glassmaking techniques 
known today were perfected, and methods of achieving 
exceptional lightness and transparency — which are now 
considered the hallmarks of Murano glass (along with its 
pure, intense color) — were discovered. The dominance of 
Murano glass lasted into the eighteenth century, when 
other European centers began to create their own styles, 
competing directly with Venice.' The splendor of 
glassmaking in Murano came to an end with the surrender 
of the Republic of Venice to Austria in 1797, after nearly a 
thousand years of independence. 

In the nineteenth century most of the ancient 
glassworks closed. The Murano workshops still in 
operation produced tired, unimaginative forms for the 
tourist market. There was no more innovation, and, even 
worse, the high quality that had always distinguished 
Murano glass almost entirely disappeared. Aware of this 
desperate situation, Abbot Vincenzo Zanetti, in 1861, 
opened a small museum on the island of Murano, 
gradually building up a collection of glass, and then 
established an adjacent school of design and craft. He 
wanted the Muranese to be inspired and stimulated by the 
masterworks of the past and the skill and creativity of 
earlier craftsmen. 2 In 1866 the final annexation of the 
Veneto to Italy during the Third War of Independence 
constituted a turning point that would lead to improved 
political, social, and economic conditions in Venice. That 
same year Vicenza lawyer Antonio Salviati, who was a 
supporter of Abbot Zanetti's school, opened the Salviati & 
Co. glass workshop on Murano, hiring the island's finest 
masters and spurring them on to re-create the celebrated 
lightness and technically bold glassworks of the past. It 
was a slow, arduous process, but eventually the new 
craftsmen succeeded in surpassing the technique and 
mastery of their forebears. 

In 1921 Paolo Venini, a Milanese lawyer, together with 
Giacomo Cappellin, a Venetian antiquarian, founded Vetri 
Soffiati Muranesi Cappellin-Venini & Co.,' appointing 
master craftsman Vittorio Zecchin the company's first 
artistic director. From the start Venini's aesthetic stressed 
purity and simplicity — as evident in forms free of all 
unnecessary ornament — and an exquisite sense of color. 
Today it is difficult to imagine the power of such an 
innovative charge upon the field of glassmaking in the 
1920s. On the occasion of Venini's death in 1959 Astone 
Gasparetto eulogized: 

222 Artists' Crafts 

When his first glass works emerged from the oven nearly forty 
years ago, people spoke almost of a revolution, at the sight of 
those forms that were yet so simple, so pure, so classical in their 
closed geometry, so accustomed had we become to seeing in our 
glasswork nothing but pseudo-Baroque frills and perforations at 
best mixed with a few silly Art Nouveau flourishes. 4 

A man of great sensitivity and perception, Venini 
understood how to choose his collaborators. Yet he was also 
a great entrepreneur who succeeded in building an 
international reputation for his company through 
designing pieces that went on to enjoy great commercial 
success (for example, the Incisi series, see cat. no. 250). The 
company's fame continued to grow; Venini glassworks were 
selected frequently for prestigious exhibitions such as the 
Venice Biennale and the Milan Triennale. In particular the 
Biennale, perhaps because of its Venetian site, came to be 
used by the Muranese as a forum for introducing technical 
and aesthetic innovations and for gauging changes of taste.' 

The story of modern Italian glassmaking can be seen to 
begin with the Biennales of 1940 and 1942, when Venini 
first introduced highly innovative lines, bold and extremely 
clean, thus anticipating the style that would predominate 
after World War II. Many of the products presented at 
these Biennales — most of them designed by Carlo Scarpa, 
who collaborated with Venini from 1932 to 1947 — remain 
today among the cornerstones of their collection. '' 

Scarpa's sense of plasticity and color and his 
inexhaustible urge to innovate definitively transformed the 
Muranese glassmaking tradition. His forms (see cat. 
nos. 239 — 43), which are underscored by their brilliant 
coloration, achieve such a sublime rarefaction that one can 
see in them the mellow colorism of Venetian Renaissance 
painting, the soft, full sensuality of Titian's Venus, and also 
the sobriety and reduction of Bauhaus design. He is also 
credited with the invention of numerous techniques, and 
the revival of others, such as murrhine glass, which had 
been used by the Romans. To make murrhine glass, a 
number of differently colored rods are joined, then heated 
to obtain a single mass that is then cut transversally, 
forming a mosaic. By shaping and finishing the amalgam 
on a lapidary's wheel, Scarpa could create very thin glass 
with semitransparent effects (see cat. nos. 244—47)/ 

Although many glassmakers were forced to close down 
or diversify their production during the war (Venini, for 
example, began to produce light bulbs), the end of the 
conflict brought an atmosphere of optimism. Many 
companies definitively abandoned traditional or 
Novecento-style forms and developed imaginative new 

Fulvio Bianconi, a well-known illustrator and 
caricaturist, succeeded Scarpa as the artistic director of 
Venini's company in 1947. Bianconi soon demonstrated his 
creative talents in designing, the following year, the 
delightful Maschere della commedia dell' arte italiana {Masked 
Figures of the Italian Commedia dell' Arte) of white opaline- 
glass with colored accents (fig. 1). In addition to these 
elegant fantasies, Bianconi designed other pieces that 
enjoyed wide commercial success, such as the Fazzohito 
(Handkerchief) vase (1949-50, cat. no. 256) — which was 
inspired by the equally popular CartOCCto vase designed by 
Pietro Chiesa in 1932 for Fontana Arte of Milan" — and the 


1 «^ 

1 *'■ 



1 • 


, • * 


1 • , 



* • 




fig. 1. Fulvio Bianconi. Maschere della 
commedia dell'arte italiana (Masked 
Figures of the Italian Commedia 
dell'Artej, 1948. executed for Venini. 
Blown Lattimo glass: Arlecchina: $2 cm 
high, Arlecchino: 57 cm high. Museo 
Venini. Mi/rano. 

fig. 2. Ermanno Toso. Bottles, ipsp, 
executed for Fratelli Toso. Left: 
tnetalized glass, so cm high; 
right: metalized glass. 44 cm high- 
Collection ofVittorio Ferro. Murano. 

m 1 Marti ani Luini 

fig. 3. Flavio Poli. Compote, i960. 
Sommerso glass, dimensions unknown. 

fig. 4. Archimede Seguso. Merletto 
(Lacework,) vase, 1952. Blown glass 
embossed with amethyst. 24 cm high. 
12. $ cm diameter. Vetreria Seguso 
Archimede. Murano. 

Multicolori or Pezzati (Multicolor or Dappled) vases (1952, 
cat. nos. 257—59), which were executed with a relatively 
simple but visually very impressive technique. 

The long-necked, polychrome bottles of 1959 (fig. 2) by 
Ermanno Toso, head of Fratelli Toso, were created in a 
similar fashion. His workshop successfully interpreted 
changing tastes and market demands by renovating 
techniques from the ancient glassmaking tradition of 
Murano in a lively and captivating manner. By contrast the 
Rationalist and almost Northern flavor of the designs of 
Flavio Poli, evident in his use of essential forms and 
primary colors (see fig. 3), became greatly appreciated 
abroad. Poli, the artistic director of the Seguso Vetri d'Arte 
workshop, would be one of the best-known artists in his 
field, particularly in America. 

In the early 1950s one of the greatest master glassmakers 
of the century, Archimede Seguso — who had left Seguso 
Vetri d'Arte in 1942 and opened his own workshop in 
1946 — pushed the limits of Renaissance filigree techniques 
in his deservedly popular series of Merletti (Lacework) 
vases. 9 In fig. 4, a mad lacework motif first tangles together 
then spreads out, slips away to retrace its steps, then slowly 
finds order and direction. Because the pattern does not 
cover the entire surface of the vase, the pure transparency 
hiding behind the netlike tangle is unveiled. Around 1953 
Seguso began the Piume (Feather) series (see fig. 5), which 
incorporates a variation of the filigree technique. With 
more massive forms and new colors that play on yellow and 
brown hues, this series heralded the severity of forms and 
colors that predominated in the glass of the decade to 

Similarly subdued colors and a slightly archaic 
appearance distinguish the forms of Ercole Barovier, a 
member of one of the oldest families of Murano 
glassmakers and for forty years the artistic director of the 
Barovier e Toso workshop. His technical achievement lies 
for the most part in his experimentation, beginning in 
1935 — 36, with "hot coloring without melting," which 
involves the introduction of "nonmeltable substances, or of 
substances not allowed the necessary time to melt, into the 
pot so as to give the mass specific coloristic effects." 10 With 
this technique, Barovier was the first to use heavy, thick 
glass, unlike the traditionally favored very light glass. 
Artistically, he is famous for executing some of the most 
beautiful glass series of the 1950s and 1960s, including 
Saturnei (Saturnian) of 1950, marked by alternating bands 
of opaque-white glass piping and colored murrhine glass, 
and the more geometric Millefili (Thousandthreads, 1956, 
fig. 6), composed of a checkerboard pattern of colored 
tesserae, some squares of which contain parallel threads." 
Works from the latter series were exhibited at the 1956 
Biennale. The "primitivism" he desired, which can be 
deduced from the very names of such series as Neolitici 
(Neolithic) and Aborigeni (Aboriginal) of 1954 and Nuragici 
of 1957 (named after the Nuraghi, the neolithic stone 
structures of Sardinia), is obtained through Barovier's use 
of basic, sometimes irregular forms and hues restricted to 
dark greens, browns, and shades of yellow-amber. 

In the 1960s the styles of the previous decade — 
encompassing light, irregular, and organically derived 
forms and delicate yet complex decorations — gave way to 
more sculptural and rational objects. Between 1958 and 

224 Artists' Crafts 


i960 Seguso executed his earliest one- and two-color vases 
in transparent or opaline glass, anticipating a trend that 
would be followed by many. The use of opaline glass, 
opaque surfaces, and abrasive acids to corrode surfaces 
gained popularity. Two glass workshops, in particular, were 
successful in perfectly interpreting the new market 
demands of the 1960s: the Vistosi company, founded by 
Guglielmo Vistosi in 1945 and managed by his brother 
Oreste after his death in 1952, and the Carlo Moretti 
workshop, founded by Moretti in 1958 and currently 
managed by him along with his brother Giovanni. The 
objects produced by Vistosi, designed by Luciano Vistosi 
and Alessandro Pianon, are distinguished by their 
geometric simplicity and abstract stylization. Carlo Moretti 
is known for its table items designed by Moretti himself 
with basic forms and clean lines. While plastic, functional 
forms triumphed in this period, the growing practice of 
employing professional designers, along with the taste for 
geometric forms leading to the use of molds, contributed 
to an overall decline in the island's age-old tradition of 

The history of Italian ceramics follows a path somewhat 
parallel to that of glass. The great period of Italian 
ceramics began in the late fourteenth century, exploding in 
the second half of the fifteenth with the perfection of 
majolica ware. Among the most refined examples of Italian 
ceramics were those produced from the fifteenth through 
the sixteenth centuries. Over the next two centuries 
ceramic wares were gradually supplanted by the exquisite 
elegance of Eastern porcelain; in the nineteenth century 
the glorious and antique craft tradition was reduced to the 
serial production of haphazardly diverse works. 

The story of the renewal of Italian ceramics in the 
twentieth century is in some ways more complex than that 
of glassmaking. One must first of all make a distinction 
between the painted ceramic vases of certain artists 
working around the turn of the century, such as Marc 
Chagall, Henri Matisse, or Pierre Auguste Renoir, and the 
programmatic revival of clay crafts that was achieved first 
by Art Nouveau and Art Deco creators and later by 
members of the historic avant-garde, from Dutch De Stijl 
to Russian Suprematism and Constructivism, to Italian 
Futurism and the German Bauhaus. While the former 
phenomenon is limited to the simple transfer of painterly 
motifs onto ceramics, the latter brought about violent 
shifts that radically revolutionized the very forms of, and 
means of making, objects. However, even in the case of 
members of avant-garde movements, artists usually limited 
themselves to conceiving pieces rather than being directly 
involved in their realization. In general these artists did not 
want to create single, unique objects, nor works of art, but 
rather items for common use that could be produced on a 
broad scale. ,; What was of interest was not the rediscovery 
of clay as an artistic material nor its direct manipulation; 
rather, the medium of ceramics was a means to address 
people, to enter into average homes, to spread ideas." Even 
though, as Enrico Crispolti reveals, in its revival of 
ceramics the school started by studying local crafts made 
by hand,' 4 the goal of the Bauhaus was to reconcile art, 
handicrafts, and industrial products, and therefore to 
redefine the object in terms that, while certainly including 

fig. 5. Archimede Seguso, Vase. Piume 
(Feather) series. 1953. Blown glass. 
-',' 1 m high. 9. 5 cm diameter. Vetreria 
Seguso Archimede, Murano. 

fig. 6. Erco/e Barovier, Vases. Millehli 
fThousandthreadsj series, 190. 
executed for Barovier e Toso. 
Blown Lattimo and Blinno glass: left: 
?2 cm high, right: 29 cm high. 

22s Mtijila \iat •, am Luini 



fig. j. Fausto Melotti, Large vases at the 
IX Triennale. Milan. i9<ji. 

aesthetics, were above all concerned with function and the 
goal of large-scale production. 

In Italy the patriarchal, multifaceted Tullio (Mazzotti) 
d'Albisola was certainly the leader in the reevaluation of 
clay handicrafts. In 1938, with Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 
he signed the Manifesto della ceramica e aeroceramica 
(Manifesto of ceramics and aeroceramics), which 
recognized the town of Albisola as one of the main centers 
of Futurist ceramics and Tullio as its major representative." 
Italian Futurist ceramics are distinguished by heavy, 
brightly colored decoration that, in the best cases, as 
Crispolti notes, manages to blend "into the form of the 
object itself.""' For more than forty years, well beyond the 
duration of the Futurist experience, Tullio remained at the 
center of contemporary artistic debate, cultivating fruitful 
exchanges with many artists through a very active 
correspondence.'^ He welcomed to his workshop and aided 
the major artists involved in the medium, from Lucio 
Fontana to Agenore Fabbri, Emilio Scanavino and Aligi 
Sassu to the artists of the COBRA group. Over the years 
Tullio fought for the recognition of the ceramic object as a 
unique work of the highest quality and of expressive, 
plastic innovation, in an attempt to tear down the wall 
traditionally existing between art and craft. 

The other central figure in the battle for the 
revalorization of ceramics was Gio Ponti, whose interests 
and goals lay in opposition to Tullio's. In the 1920s and 
1930s Ponti championed a figurative porcelain"* of great 
elegance, refinement, and very high quality in his long 
collaboration with Richard Ginori."' In the 1940s and 1950s 
he presented himself as the defender of Italian handicrafts, 
which in his words "represent the highest, liveliest abilities 
of our country and perhaps the best part of our people."' 
From the pages of Domus, the review he founded in 1928, 
Ponti promoted not only ceramics but also glassmaking, 
enameling, fabrics, and painted furniture. 

Heir to Tullio's legacy, Fontana began to work in 
ceramics as early as 1937 at Sevres, but it was above all at 
Albisola, in the Mazzotti workshop, that he really came to 
understand the material. 21 He would continue to return to 
the atelier in Albisola periodically to work. By the end of 
the 1930s Fontana was using ceramics as a new medium of 
expression, drawing upon its malleable nature and its 
capacity to capture otherwise unachievable effects." In this 
sense his ceramics from this period owe something to the 
art of Auguste Rodin, who was one of the first to rediscover 
the ancient, supple material of clay as a material for 
finished sculpture, and, to cite a more recent, Italian 
example, of Arturo Martini, who had worked assiduously 
in ceramics in the 1920s and 1930s, always in Albisola, 
making sculptures and vases. Fontana went on to achieve 
a fuller knowledge of clay in the period following his 
1939 — 47 sta y m Argentina. 

The exhibition that marked the turning point in 
twentieth-century Italian ceramics in a broad sense was the 
IX Triennale, held in 1951. Fontana exhibited his spatial 
ceramics, begun in 1949 — 50, from which iron spirals shoot 
up as if toward the cosmos. 21 He destroyed the polished 
surfaces of his plates and vases with aggressive, vortexlike 
brushstrokes and loud stains of pure color, then he 
scratched, perforated, and further profaned them. By this 
point Fontana had so deeply, so absolutely absorbed the 

226 Artists' Crafts 

culture of ceramics that his work in it becomes 
indistinguishable from contemporary work in other 
mediums. Through his pieces, artistic inspiration bends to 
the laws of ceramics, while the ceramic medium is 
broadened to embrace artistic inspiration. 

At that same Triennale Fausto Melotti was awarded the 
Grand Prize in ceramics for a series of very large vases, 
some more than a meter in height although very light and 
fragile. In fact Melotti's material becomes thinner and 
thinner, until it is an extremely light sheet that continually 
challenges the forces of cohesion (see fig. 7). 

Melotti, who can be seen as the successor to Ponti's 
artistic credo, had by the 1920s already begun working in 
ceramics, making little sculptures. Yet he did not apply 
himself totally to clay until after the public and critical 
misunderstanding of his 1935 sculpture exhibition at 
Milan's Galleria del Milione, and after his 1941—43 stay in 
Rome, where he worked on E42, a monumental project for 
the Esposizione universale Roma '42. For nearly twenty years 
he concentrated upon ceramics. In the 1940s Melotti 
produced, on two parallel paths, small sculptures and 
functional objects, ever wavering between the abstract 
and the figurative. In the 1950s he concentrated entirely on 
vessels, though investing them with expressiveness and 
imagination and often undermining their functionality. 
A series of vases made from the end of the 1940s to the 
early 1950s plays with a zoomorphic transfiguration 
of geometric form. Such works demonstrate the pervasive 
flash of irrationality and mischievousness that mitigates 
Melotti's Rationalist faith (see cat. nos. 235, 236). In 
the 1950s Melotti energetically collaborated with Ponti 
on various projects, including large public and private 
commissions such as the 1954 Alitalia terminals in 
the airports of Milan and New York, where he covered 
the walls entirely with blue and white ceramic tile/' 
After devoting twenty years to ceramics, he abandoned it 
in the 1960s, returning to sculpture in other mediums. 

Whereas Fontana, more in keeping with the dictates of 
Tullio, totally negated the distinction between art and craft 
by championing what he defined as "monotype" 
ceramics — the single piece that, because it is directly 
modeled by the artist, attains the level of arr' — Melotti 
represented, in a certain sense, the traditional dichotomy 
between art and handicraft. Lisa Ponti poetically sums 
up Melotti's attitude as follows: "Melotti laughs at the 
things he makes: at his shelves full of armies of little angels 
and families of 'odd animals'. . . . They're things I do 
under the table, of course, he says; everyone knows they're 
not sculpture."' To him ceramics was a game, an 
amusement, and a way to survive during a twenty-year 
period of crisis (many of his objects were commercialized, 
created in series). In interviews from the 1960s Melotti 
spoke repeatedly of this "crisis," which was brought about 
through a lack of critical and popular recognition for his 
work as well as wartime and postwar difficulties. Yet he 
would not have been able to attain the innovative force and 
expressive purity of his 1960s sculpture had lie not spent 
those twenty years "surviving" by concentrating upon a 
handicraft. His ceramic work of the 1940s and 1950s, then, 
is significant because it is the expression of a "silent 
search and inner elaboration," in the words of Giovanna 

There are many more connections between Melotti and 
Fontana than might initially appear. Aside from their 
esteem and respect for each other they are united by a love 
for ceramics. ''* In addition, in the work of both artists there 
is a latent schizophrenia, which drove them to waver 
indefinitely between a rational, minimalist purity and an 
expressive, almost baroque eccentricity. If Fontana violated 
pure forms by laceration and perforation, or, at times in a 
final act of defiance, by painting them in bright and 
purposely jarring colors, Melotti gave his magical and 
sometimes anguishing imagination free rein, often 
allowing it to prevail over an object's function (see cat. 
no. 237). 

Hints of the impetuous physicality of Fontana (and of 
some of Melotti's oeuvre) can be found in the work of 
Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi], who concentrated upon 
ceramics from the very start of his career in 1939 at the 
Rometti workshop at Umbertide. Later he worked 
independently, for the most part in Rome. Through his 
expressive, baroque exuberance and strident use of the 
figurative, he brought decoration to new heights of dignity, 
as in the beautiful ceramic panels he made for the Ariston 
Cinema and in his interpretation of a classical motif — the 
sleek marble caryatid — as a jagged, tormented ceramic 
supporting not the columns of a stately temple but rather 
the crystal top of a common table. In such works figurative 
sculpture completely penetrates the domain of ceramic 
design. Leoncillo's bright, sometimes even irritating colors 
seem to be a bitingly ironic comment on the banality and 
bad taste of many popular ceramics of the time. 

Fontana and Melotti represent the two sides of the 
debate that raged in the 1950s around the reconciliation of 
art and craft (to which Ponti would have added 
architecture). The 1960s would bring about the collapse of 
this Utopian goal, and an ever deeper gulf would come to 
separate craft (and the burgeoning field of industrial 
design) from art. Fontana, after the cosmic explosion of his 
terra-cotta Nature (Natures, 1959-60), gradually abandoned 
ceramics, as did Melotti. Other important artists, such as 
Emilio Scanavino, made ever-clearer distinctions between 
artistic and mass production in ceramics." Until his death 
in 1968 Leoncillo pushed clay to the extreme, echoing the 
valences of Art Informel in a personal parable of "pain and 
splendor," to use Fabrizio d'Amico's term. 

Although in the previous decade glass and clay were still 
seen as materials for making exclusive objects — that is, 
unique works, fragile, precious, and prohibitively 
expensive — in the 1960s the field of industrial design 
idealized simply designed objects based on rigorousrj 
geometric shapes, incorporating pure and stronglj 
contrasting hues, captivating in appearance yet produced 
in mass quantities for broad distribution. Changing 
attitudes brought about the return ot a distinct separation 
between everyday objects and artworks, thereby pn\ ileging 
the utilitarian qualities of objects over their .irtistk merits 
The 1970s would prove this to be yet another ideal tailed, .is 
had the Utopian vision ot the 1950s. 1 Ma > uini 

i. One such competitor was Bohemia, which began to use, in place of 
the sodium employed by Venetian glassmakers, potassium obtained 
from wood ashes, thus creating the famous crystal, with its 
exceptional brilliance. By the early nineteenth century the quality of 
English crystal was recognized. For the historical background of 
Murano glassmaking, see Rosa Barovier Mentasti, Venetian Glass: 
1890-1990 (Venice: Arsenate Editrice, 1992), pp. 8-9, and, by the same 
author, // vetro veneziano: Dal medio evo al novecento (Venetian glass: 
from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Milan: Electa, 1982). 

2. Barovier Mentasti, Venetian Glass, pp. 8-9. 

3. This company was dissolved in 1925, when Venini founded Vetri 
Soffiati Muranesi Venini & Co. 

4. Astone Gasparetto, quoted in Giuliana Duplani Tucci, ed., Venini: 
Murano 1921 (Milan: Franco Maria Ricci, 1989), p. 32. 

5. The glass section of the Biennale was abolished in 1972. 

6. See the catalogues to the XXII Biennale Internazionale a" Arte (1940) 
and the XXIII Biennale Internazionale a" Arte (1942). 

7. All information about glassmaking techniques was obtained from 
the useful appendix, "Le tecniche," in Franco Deboni, / vetri Venini 
(Venini glass. Turin: Allemandi, 1989), pp. 206 — 17. 

8. In 1938 Fausto Melotti also designed a very similar vase of glazed 

9. Filigree is made by inserting threads of white or colored glass inside 
slender crystal tubes and then arranging them on the bronzin, a cold 
iron shelf (which used to be made of bronze, hence the name). 
Incandescent glass is then rolled over them. See Barovier Mentasti, 
Venetian Glass, p. 196. 

10. Attilia Dorigato, Ercole Barovier 1889—1974, Vetraio Muranese 
(Ercole Barovier 1889 — 1974, Muranese glassmaker. Venice: Museo 
Correr, 1989), p. 18. 

11. Ibid., p. 28. 

12. Enrico Crispolti, La ceramica futurista da Bulla a Tullio dAlbissola 
(Futurist ceramics from Balla to Tullio dAlbisola. Faenza: Museo 
Internazionale delle Ceramiche, 1982), p. 6. 

13. Compare, however, Pablo Picasso's, Joan Miro's, and Fernand Leger's 
use of ceramics to create pure artworks. 

14. Crispolti, La ceramica futurista, p. 8. 

15. The manifesto was first published in Turin's Gazzetta del Popolo, 
September 7, 1938. Reprinted in Crispolti, La ceramica futurista, p. 8. 

16. Crispolti, La ceramica futurista, p. 8. 

17. See Danilo Presotto, ed., Quaderni di Tullio di Albissola (Notebooks 
of Tullio di Albisola. Savona: Liguria Editore, 1981 — 87). 

18. For a technical explanation of ceramics and porcelain, see Natale 
"Theo" Veirana, "Tecnica della ceramica," in Fulvio M. Rosso, Per virtu 
delfuoco: Uomini e ceramiche del novecento italiano (By virtue of fire: men 
and ceramics in twentieth-century Italy. Aosta: Musumeci, 1983), 

pp. 201 — 02: "Technically, one defines as ceramic any product made of 
solid, inorganic, nonmetallic materials that is shaped cold and 
hardened with heat." Ceramics and porcelain are both made of clay; 
the particular clay for porcelain is called kaolin (from its Japanese 
name). When fired at a very high temperature (above 1200 C), it 
forms a dense white, nonporous ware. 

19. Fausto Melotti also collaborated with Richard Ginori in the early 

20. Gio Ponti, "Che cosa signifka la nostra copertina," Stile (Style), 
no. ( (March 1946), p. 2. 

21. In his work of those years Fontana wavered between abstraction 
.ni.l figuration, although he is mentioned in the Manifesto del 'Li 
ceramica e aeroceramica as an "abstract" ceramist. 

22. The fascination that ceramics held for Fontana during this period 
is also attested to by the fact that in numerous solo exhibitions of 
1938-39 he showed only ceramics. See Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: 
Catalogo generate (Fontana: general catalogue. Milan: Electa, 1986), 

I' 1 I 

; F01 preview and review of the exhibition, see Gio Ponti, 
"La ceramica italiana," Domus, no. 260 (July-August 1951), and 
"Le ceramic lie italiane alia Triennale," Domus, no. 262 (October 1951). 
2 1 ( rio Ponti, "II nuovo 'terminal' dell'Alitalia a Milano," Domus, 
no. 371 (October i960), pp. 5-7. 

25^ i' li for his nomination as Italian 

Representativi to the International Academy of Ceramics of Geneva in 

•■"!"< 1 :i (ramc (Ceramics 1: ceramic studies. 

Geneva, 1954), p. 35. 

26. Lisa Ponti, "II Mago Melotti," Domus, no. 230 (1948), p. 26. 

27. Giovanna Amadasi, "Le ceramiche e le terracotte di Fausto Melotti 
negli anni '40 e '50: Continuita di un percorso artistico" (The ceramics 
and terra-cottas of Fausto Melotti in the 1940s and 1950s: the 
continuation of an artistic path), university thesis, Milan, Universita 
degli Studi, 1992—93, p. 10. 

28. Fontana and Melotti together attended the courses of Adolfo Wildt 
at Milan's Accademia di Brera in 1928 — 29, and both joined the Gruppo 
degli Astrattisti Italiani in 1934. 

29. Many others were working in a variety of ways in ceramics during 
the years of the Italian metamorphosis. Aside from the already 
mentioned Scanavino and Leoncillo, some of the best known were 
Agenore Fabbri; Salvatore Fancello, who died very young; Marino 
Marini; and Aligi Sassu, all of whom gravitated around the Mazzotti 
workshop in Albisola. 

30. Fabrizio d'Amico, "Leoncillo," in Pier Giovanni Castagnoli, 
Fabrizio d'Amico, and Flaminio Gualdoni, eds., Scultura e ceramica in 
Italia nel novecento (Sculpture and ceramics in twentieth-century Italy), 
exhibition catalogue (Bologna: Galleria d'Arte Moderna "Giorgio 
Morandi," 1989), p. 29. 

228 Artists' Crafts 

Art in Jewels 

Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi 

To develop a consciousness of art means to rediscover its 
power of genesis; it means above all to regain possession of 
the alchemical spirit' that penetrates substances and 
transforms them into a docile tool at the service of imagery. 
To know about art is to draw closer to the laws that 
regulate this spirit, found in the ancient workshop of the 
alchemist. It is there that the transmutation of base matter 
into gold, thoughts into wisdom, existence into terrestrial 
immortality, takes place. 

The need to establish a circularity between art and 
alchemy, between sculpted or painted images and gold, is 
rooted in the age-old relationships between the occult and 
the creative, between the formulae of painting and the 
hermetic charms of colors, between the liberating action of 
metals and jewels, which were understood as sculptures to 
be worn for propitiatory and salvational motives. 

The intermingling of colors and gold, artist and 
goldsmith, began in the Middle Ages and was glorified in 
the Renaissance, when specialized manuals of painting and 
sculpture contained chromatic instructions and metallic 
formulae equally useful to artists, illustrators, 
glassworkers, and jewelers. Nitric acid, a solvent common 
among goldsmiths and alchemists, was used by Francesco 
Mazzola (better known as Parmigianino), Albrecht Diirer, 
and Antonio del Pollaiuolo to renew the language of 
etching and engraving. Benvenuto Cellini and Andrea del 
Verrocchio explored the field of jewelry making 2 and 
extended the terrain of artistic activity to include 
decoration and ornament, for which their works won 
acceptance as scultura miniata (illuminated sculpture). 
Their extreme refinement, however, did not succeed in 
bringing microsculpture and jewelry in from the margins 
of art, to which they had been consigned by a profound 
lack of interest in the decorative arts, which were excluded 
from the great theoretical and philosophical debates. The 
search for fantastic and imaginary ornament, although it 
stood directly in the evolutionary history of culture 
(sharing its symbology and tied to its rites of magic and 
religion as well as to the rituals of power), was left to the 
high craftsmanship of the master jeweler, who adapted to 
the styles and fashions of the age. What was produced 
from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries reflects a 
mere elaboration of the techniques of cutting and joining, 
fusion and impasto of precious stones and metals, so that 
the sculptor slowly tended to be distinguished from the 
goldsmith and the jeweler.' 

Only in the late nineteenth century, with a market 
expanding under the influence of the petit bourgeoisie that 
came to power after the French Revolution, did jewelry and 
miniature sculpture find a new audience and popular 
appraisal. The Romantic spirit induced a revaluation of 
individual beauty, seduction, and appeal, while the 
discovery of the exotic, as a consequence of archaeological 
excavations and the exploitation of mineral deposits in the 
countries of the colonized Orient, gave rise to new passions 
among the nouveaux riches. Now they desired ornaments 
inspired by antiquity and "primitive" cultures and loaded 
with precious stones and rare metals. 

The totalizing vision of the Art Nouveau environment 
transformed ornaments into objects of design that could be 
made from common materials worked according to new 
industrial techniques. The beauty of the jewel and of the 

230 Artists' Crafts 

miniature object for the person or the home, together with 
the aesthetic redefinition of apparel and environmental 
accessories, was no longer tied to the intrinsic value of 
materials and stones but to the originality of the 
conception and of its decorative and formal elements. 
Diamonds and rubies were flanked by glass, enamel, green 
gold, cultivated pearls, silver, amber, onyx, and opal, all of 
which enriched the chromatic and formal palette of 

The re-emergence of creativity in design and visual 
conception, the new openness toward common materials, 
and above all the languid and floral aestheticism of the 
Pre-Raphaelites, brought artists back into the fold. From 
Joseph Hoffmann to Koloman Moser, from Henry Van de 
Velde to Philip Wolfers, the languages of sculpture and 
painting, modeling and planning called attention to their 
own aesthetic impact: to the styles and volumes, the 
interlacing of colors and materials, the forms and figuration 
of jewelry in the history of art. Nevertheless, at the 
beginning of the twentieth century, artists who attempted 
the adventure of jewelry or of wearable sculptural 
ornaments were still rare; and their interest was almost 
always due to their concern for economic survival, given 
the difficulty of selling their sculpture and painting. 

Those who did work with jewelry included Julio 
Gonzalez, starting in 1913; 4 Alberto Giacometti (for 
Schiapparelli), beginning in 1924;' and Alexander Calder, 
after 1930.'' They executed bracelets and necklaces, lockets 
and earrings, in common materials like iron, bronze, 
enamel, and silver; and they enjoyed the intellectual 
company of Marcel Duchamp, who in 1921 proposed to 
Tristan Tzara the idea of making an "amulet/jewel" 
composed of the words "DaDa, cast separately in metal, 
strung on a chain, and sold to raise money for the Dada 
movement. The insignia would protect against certain 
diseases, against numerous annoyances of life . . . 
something like those Little Pink Pills which cure 
everything ... a universal panacea, a fetish in this sense." 

The greatest commitment to the field was made by 
Calder. In 1930 he was busily searching for bits of blue 
pottery with which to make a necklace for his mother. His 
interest in jewelry turned professional in 1933, when, at the 
request of his sister, he began to produce buckles and metal 
jewels to sell in small shops." These objects were gradually 
refined, and in the 1940s and 1950s they became marvelous 
necklaces (see fig. 1), brooches, earrings, bracelets, and belts 
in bronze and silver interlaced with wood and minerals, 
based on the motif of the spiral, a constant element of his 
mobiles and toys. With Calder, the first artistic 
experimentation in jewelry was established: he was the 
true seeker of an avant-garde of bodily ornament based not 
on the value and symbolic power of gold and precious 
stones, but on the inventive charge of the forms and gems, 
which marked out an individual design sensibility 
distinguished by an abstract and fluid play of shapes. 

The recourse to poorer materials during the years 
between the Wall Street Crash and the end of World 
War II was also determined by the state of production in 
the world as a whole. Because of the reduction in the 
availability of gold, diamonds, rubies, and platinum due to 
the closure of national borders and the drop in 
international trade, jewels began to be manufactured m 

fig. i. Alexander Calder. Necklace. 
ca. 1940. Silver, length 66 cm. 
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus Perls, 
New York. 

fig. 2. Pablo Picasso, Brooch, ca. 1959. 
Gold, dimensions unknown. 

:u Pandora Tabatabai 

/'/?■ i- Jtan ArjK Brooch, i960, Silver, 
6 x 7 < m. 

fig. ./ Salvadoi I >,///. Ruby Lips. 
n>\') Gold, rubies, and pearls, $x son. 
Ou , n < 'heatham Foundation. 

jig. 5. Edgardo Mannucci, 
Brooch, ipfj. Gold, rubies, and 
'Id, dinti nsiom unknown. 

semiprecious materials such as aquamarine and synthetics. 
This development helped to curtail the ostentation of the 
wealthy.' It also gave rise to a flowering oflow-cost 
ornamental and decorative accessories made of Bakelite, 
ceramics, glass, and wood, which attracted a broader 
public and initiated a more democratic dissemination of 
jewelry. This became particularly evident during the 
heyday of Art Deco. 

In the years immediately after the war, Europe's 
economic rebirth brought an authentic explosion in the 
production of jewelry, which was increasingly associated 
with the ephemeral and frivolous creations of fashion. 
Artists were inspired by friends and important collectors 
like Peggy Guggenheim,' or pressed by such famous 
goldsmiths as Frederic Boucheron, Jean Fouchet, and Pierre 
Hugo; " and once they overcame the ideological 
impediments to an interest in the decorative arts, they 
began to execute microsculptures and wearable works of 
art. Between 1948 and 1963, Jean Arp, Georges Braque, 
Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Meret 
Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, Yves Tanguy, and Dorothea 
Tanning worked on miniaturizing their images to 
transform them into earrings, necklaces, and pins bearing 
iconographic and linguistic motifs tied to the traditions of 
Cubism, Dada, Metaphysical Painting, and Surrealism 
(see, for example, Picasso's Brooch of ca. 1959, fig. 2, and 
Arp's of i960, fig 3). 

With the increased popularity of jewelry, artists began 
to take radical stands for or against this form of 
dissemination of their personal and cultural identity, 
which in future decades would assume the dimensions of a 
mass market. Salvador Dali', taking the notion of jewelry as 
pure and absolute (hence unwearable and exorbitantly 
expensive) sculpture to its absurd extreme, used platinum, 
diamonds, gold, malachite, rubies, and sapphires to make a 
series of objects in the form of hearts, crosses, hands, eyes, 
lips (fig. 4), and telephones, whose raison d'etre, he stated, 
was "a protest against emphasis upon the cost of the 
materials of jewelry. My object is to show the jeweler's art 
in true perspective, where the design and craftsmanship are 
to be valued above the material worth of gems, as in 
Renaissance times.'" 2 

Yet, with the turn-around in market interest sustained 
by a worldwide economic revival; with the renewed passion 
of collectors for works of art and high craftsmanship; and 
with the reawakened interest of the fashion houses, which 
saw a territory open up for designer jewelry and fanciful 
objects to blend with their garments or to reinforce their 
cultural images, the making, promotion, and sale of 
jewelry spread throughout the world. In France, Italy, the 
United States, Germany, Scandinavia, and Great Britain, 
the great goldsmiths invited artists to apply themselves to 
the modeling of microsculptures. 

During this period Braque created 133 jewels (in two 
years' time) for Heger de Lowenfeld, and Dali fabricated 
thirty-seven precious sculptures for Alemany & Co. In 
every country, risky and experimental collaborations took 
place between jewelers and younger artists whose roots lay 
in the early twentieth-century avant-gardes but whose 
ideas had been formed by postwar movements, from 
Action Painting to Art Informel. 

232 A rtists' Crafts 

The Preciousness of Italian Art 

Italy was devastated and desolate at the end of World 
War II. The economic and industrial situation was 
catastrophic, and there was a shortage of precious metals. 
Nevertheless revival came quickly, born of a will to rebirth 
and a desire to forget the historical nightmare as soon as 
possible. During the following ten years, production and 
incomes rose enormously, and if in 1952 Italy was not yet 
out of the woods, it had certainly left the worst behind and 
was well on its way to recovery. 

The innovative spirit of the liberation forces stimulated 
Italian culture and led to a renewal of all those arts, from 
cinema to painting, music to literature, that aspired to 
abandon the old and engage in a new experiment with an 
appeal to a much broader public. That experiment was 
neorealism. With the mobilization of democracy and the 
broader dissemination of information and culture, 
attention turned to areas that had been undervalued 
previously, like those of fashion and design. This 
development brought with it a reassessment of the 
aesthetic of the object. 

After 1945 art became one of the chief agents in the 
process of liquidating traditional conservative culture, first 
by defining the conflict between realism and abstraction, 
and then, after 1949, with the advent of Art Informel, by 
starting research toward a work of art characterized by 
openness and flexibility. These cultural and economic 
developments were accompanied by an increase in the 
production of objects for the person and the home, notably 
jewelry, which, as we have seen, spread throughout the 
middle classes, relinquishing its status as a prerogative of 
the few to become an extension of personality touching all 
levels of society. 

Survival was difficult in the early postwar years, which 
meant that many artists, in order to carry on their 
sculptural and painterly experiments, had to find second 
jobs. In the happier cases, these paralleled their primary 
interests. Some became illustrators, others potters; many 
found security in teaching, and a few in making jewelry. 
Between 1944 and 1950, Mirko [Mirko Basaldella] and 
Fausto Melotti made decorative objects inspired by a 
certain "primitivism," with references to Etruscan and 
Roman art; and Carla Accardi, who was connected with the 
group Forma, made for herself a pin in gold, brilliants, 
pearls, and coral, based on one of her abstract compositions 
(cat. no. 267). These, however, were isolated episodes 
representing a personal desire to seek individual expression 
through the magic and ritual of ornament. 

It was only in the late 1950s, with the advent of Art 
Informel, that artistic jewelry reached its maturity. Thick 
impasto and uncontrolled movement, the use of malleable 
materials, and the notions of chaos and the unfinished 
work permeated this movement. In this culture of the 
formless, gold, with its extreme flexibility and fluidity, was 
one of the prime elements that allowed artists to transform 
the world alchemically. 

The pleasure of obtaining and freely molding a 
substance opened up a plastic universe in 1953 to Edgardo 
Mannucci, an artist born in Fabriano in the Marches, but 
living in Rome. He is known for working with raw, 
unfinished materials such as scrap metal in order to realize 
dynamic configurations, monuments that seem weightless. 

His practice as a sculptor and goldsmith can be considered 
the matrix of the creative development of artists' jewelry in 
Italy after i960, from Afro [Afro Basaldella} to Alberto 
Burri, from Corrado Cagli to Giulio Turcato. Mannucci's 
dramatic figurations of brute matter, molded of an impasto 
of metals and wood, offer prime examples of organic 
drippings in gold, bronze, and silver (see fig. 5). In 1962, 
they led to the first experiments in jewelry by Burri, who 
commissioned Mannucci to execute pieces following his 
designs. After a first collaboration, which led to the 
execution of a remarkable belt/necklace and a small 
powder-box, Burri asserted his autonomy in the brooches 
of 1965-67 (see cat. nos. 276-78), which reflect his 
artworks of burned plastic in the Comb/istione {Combustion) 
series. Gold was melted directly with a blowtorch to give 
soul to the auric substance. It is an outstanding example of 
a wearable illuminated image in which the energy of the 
material is transformed into painterly magic — an 
enigmatic moment in which gold gives evidence of its 
alchemical power to transmute vision and thought. 

Another artist introduced to jewelry by Mannucci, as 
well as by his own brother Mirko, is Afro, who turned 
toward a more iconic ornamentation in 1962 (see cat. nos. 
268-75). Repeatedly in his necklaces, rings, bracelets, and 
pins, we encounter figural memories of natural motifs, 
which are reminiscent of the primitivism of his brother's 
work in jewelry. Precious stones like emeralds and rubies 
create a dialectic between water and fire, smoothness and 
roughness — a ferment of contrasting elements that exalts 
the sensual pleasure of the images and forms. 

The desire to create a breach in the universe of jewelry 
also stimulated Turcato, who led ornamentation back to a 
barbaric identity (see cat. nos. 318-25). A forceful visual 
and metaphorical energy transforms his tiara of 1965 into a 
scene from an initiation rite of aggressive sexuality, his pin 
and bracelet into ritual talismans. The material, of white 
or yellow gold, liquifies on the arm or chest, almost as if it 
wished to form a river of vibrant lava, a vital current 
capable of adapting to all of the body's sensuality. 

A fundamental contribution to the history of the art of 
jewelry was made by Arnaldo and Gio Pomodoro, who 
legitimized the poetry of bodily ornamentation as 
illuminated sculpture (see cat. nos. 304—17). In 1954, at the 
Galleria Montenapoleone in Milan, they held the first 
exhibition of miniature objects and jewelry in which the 
meticulous craftsmanship and refined technique of high 
goldsmithing were placed at the disposal of sculptors. The 
imaginative power of totemistic spheroids and pyramids 
emerges amid the polished surfaces, the etchings in gold. 
the embedded rubies and sapphires." 

Eventually the brothers' elaborations would begin to 
diverge. After 1964 Arnaldo turned toward a dialec ti< 
between positive and negative sculptural erosions in 
diamonds and gold, based on the forms of the cylinder and 
the sphere; his necklaces and bracelets with "destroyed" 
surfaces were transformed into objects with arc hite< rural 
elements that connect the lingers 10 the wrist and tin 
upper arm to the neck. Following .1 very different vein, Gid 
moved from raw and wounded lorms to elements conjuring 
images ot galac til ami earthly landsc apes. 1 lis 1 reations of 
1964 were expanses ol shrubs and rocks, buildings and 

mountains; those ot i>)f>(s became strange universes from 

133 Pandora I 

clocku he from top left: 

fig. 6. Ugo Mulas. Earring by Arnaldo 
Pomodoro. Milan, 1969. Gelatin-silver 
print. }8. 7 x 2J.5 cm on sheet 40.} x 
31 cm. Anlm to V go Mulas. 

fig. 7. Ugo M//las. Ring by Arnaldo 
Pomodoro. Milan. 1969. Gelatin-silver 
print. 38. 7 x 27. s cm on sheet 40 x 
30.2 cm. Archivio Ugo Main. 

fig. 8. Ugo Mulas. Ring by Arnaldo 
Pomodoro (produced by GEM- 
Montebello, Milan). 1069. Gelatin- 
<ih t r print, is. 5 x }8 cm on sheet 3$. $ x 
48 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas. 

fig. 9. Ugu Mulas. Necklace by 
Arnaldo Pomodoro. Venice, 1969. 
Gelatin-silver print. 37 x 2$. 8 cm on 
sheet 40. 5 x $2 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas. 

fig. jo. Ugo Mulas. Bracelet by Lucio 
Fontana. Milan. 11)64. Gelatin-silver 
print. 2j x 18 cm on sheet p. $ x 21. s cm. 
Archil in I 'go Mulas. 

fig. 11. Ugo Mulas. Bracelet by 
Arnaldo Pomodoro. Milan, 1969. 
Gelatin-silt 1 r print: 38 x 25 cm on sheet 
so x 40 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas. 

which irradiations and fantastic edifices arose; and those of 
1967—68 were imaginary ensembles of sculptural and 
chromatic vibrations in enamel and diamond that radiated 
alchemical fireworks. 

The Pomodoro brothers were organizers as well as 
creators.' 4 In 1957 they were charged with overseeing the 
Goldsmithing section of the XI Triennale in Milan, to 
which they invited their artist friends, including Enrico 
Baj, Sergio Dangelo, Gianni Dova, Lucio Fontana, Emilio 
Scanavino, and Ettore Sottsass, Jr. This was a first for 
Fontana, who set about questioning the surface with 
slashes and holes and making various Concetti spaziali 
(Spatial Concepts) in the form of rings or bracelets between 
1957 and 1967 (see cat. nos. 287-93). It is as if he- were 
seeking a hidden energy in gold, an underside capable of 
bursting forth as pure space. The play of relativity also 
deeply interested the sculptor Fausto Melotti, of whom 
Fontana thought very highly and with whom he had shared 
the excitement of abstraction in the 1930s. Melotti 's small 
sculptures in bronze and lesser metals thrive on their 
indeterminate interlacings and on the vibrations of their 
open structures, a light occupation of space that gold 
and precious gems would have made too heavy (see cat. 
nos. 294-98). 

Artists, however, were not the only propulsive force in 
the field. There were also jewelers who, in addition to their 
work of traditional, classical inspiration, explored more 
experimental paths. The need for change arose from an 
altered market, in which women pursued a more aggressive 
and antitraditional image and therefore became interested 
in a more radical design. Danilo Fumanti, Gherardi, and 
Mario Masenza in Rome, as well as the young Montebello 
in Milan, approached painters and sculptors during the 
1960s to create jewelry and other items that emphasized 
the twofold creativity of art and master craftsmanship. 
Among the artists, Afro, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Pietro 
Consagra, Fontana, Nino Franchina, Renato Guttuso, 
Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi}, and the Pomodoro brothers 
made precious ornaments which, in several cases, were 
consecrated in photographs by the esteemed Ugo Mulas 
(see figs. 6-11). 

The phenomenon of the abstract graphic mark, which 
multiplies on the surface to form a mosaic of strange 
hieroglyphics, was the motif adopted by Capogrossi to 
investigate the value of optical movement in painting. He 
applied the same technique to his jewels, in which the 
chromatic substances of painting are replaced by 
diamonds, onyx, and coral (see cat. nos. 279-80). If 
Capogrossi's mark tends to create a compact surface, the 
folds and pathways of Consagra's pieces (see cat. nos. 
282—84) bespeak lacerations of the sculptural surface, 
conflicts and encounters of fullness and emptiness; and 
Piero Dorazio's creations in gold, sapphires, and diamonds 
(see cat. nos. 285-86), by bearing the absolute analytic- 
rigor of his painting, betray the awareness of making art. 

Finally, there is a generation of artists and jewelers who 
received their training and made their names in Milan, 
Koine-, and Turin, and who sought to overcome the chaotic, 
materialistic vision of Art Informel to propose an art based 
on t lie analysis and reduction of forms and images. 
Oscillating between a universe of popular figuration and 
opt i( al structuring, artists like Getulio Alviani, Mario 

Ceroli, Gabriele De Vecchi (see cat. nos. 328—29), and 
Giuseppe Uncini (see cat. nos. 326-27) endeavored to move 
jewelry toward a simple dimension based on materials like 
wood and aluminum in order to underscore the value of 
carving and reflection, montage and mobility. Finally, 
Giulio Paolini (see cat. nos. 302-03) and Maurizio 
Mochetti (see cat. nos. 299—301), from two opposing 
perspectives, seem to shift attention to the study of the 
jewel as an autonomous entity, the former defining the 
impact of the fist that passes through and lacerates the 
gold surface, the latter making the necklace a living, active 
thing through a small automated device that reacts to 

If jewelry or bodily ornamentation can either perform or 
result from an action, then its effects can reach beyond the 
limits of art to become an area of mystery and magic that 
joins the artist with the person who wears his creations. 

1. Pneuma, souffle, Breath, d'Er-Ruh has been universally identified 
with the life principle. From the Celts to the Stoics, from the Muslims 
to the Hebrews, it has been the symbol of the divine spirit that 
animates the world, giving it order and direction. In the Old 
Testament it means the Word. See Jean Chevalier and Alain 
Gheerbrant, Dictionaire des Symbules (Dictionary of Symbols. Paris: 
Editions Robert Laffont et Editions Jupiter, 1969), pp. 899—900. 

2. Jacques van Lennep, Alchemie (Alchemy. Brussels: Gemeentehrediet, 
1984), pp. 299-300. 

3. Jean Lanllier and Marie Anne Pini, Five Centuries of Jewelry in the 
West (New York, 1983). 

4. Thomas Llorens, "La colecciones de esculturas de Julio Gonzalez en 
el IVAM," in Julio Gonzalez, exhibition catalogue (Madrid: Centra de 
Arte Reina Sofia, 1986). 

5. Rene Sabatello New, Jewelry by Contemporary Painters and Sculptors, 
exhibition catalogue (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1967). 

6. Daniel Marchesseau, The Intimate World of Alexander Calder (Paris: 
Solange Thierry, 1989). 

7. Quoted in Neu, unpaginated. 

8. Marchesseau, pp. 254—56. 

9. David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti, Understanding Jewellery 
(Suffolk, 1989), p. 330. 

10. Bennet and Mascetti, p. 333. 

n. Gioelli e Legature, artisti del XX secolo (Jewelry and bookbinding, 
artists of the twentieth century. Padua: L'Orafo Italiano Editore, 1990). 

12. Quoted in Salvador Dalf. A Study on His Art-in-Jewels (New York: 
New York Graphic Society, 1959), unpaginated. 

13. Luciano Caprile, "Spheres, Pyramids, Cones and Doors," in Art, 
September— December 1992. 

14. The goldsmithing experiments of Arnaldo and Gio Pomodoro have 
been widely appreciated by art historians. A few essential references 
include: Guido Ballo, "I gioielli di due nuovi scultori: Arnaldo e Gio 
Pomodoro," Novita, Milan, January 1962; Willy Rotsler, "Schmuck von 
Pomodoro," Du, Zurich, January 1962; Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, 

"I gioielli non costano soltanto, possono diventare opere d'arte," 
L'avvenire d'ltalia, Bologna, July 7, 1964; and Giorgio Soavi, "Gioielli 
d'autore," Novita, Milan, January 1965. 

236 Artists' Crafts 

Artists' Crafts 

Catalogue numbers 231-329 

Carta Accardi 

Afro {Afro Basaldella) 

Firivio Bianconi 

Alberto Burri 

Giuseppe Capogrossi 

Ettore Col I a 

Pietro Consagra 

Gabriele De Veccbi 

Ludovico Diaz de Santillana 

Piero Dorazio 

Lucio Fontana 

Fausto Melotti 

Manrizio Mochetti 

Gialio Paolini 

Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Gib Pomodoro 

Gio Ponti 

Carlo Scarpa 

Tobia Scarpa 

Giulio Ti/rcato 

Giuseppe Uncini 

Paolo Venini 

Massimo Vignelli 

Pie ra n ton to Zucche ri 

231. Lucio Fontanel 

Concetto spaziale ("Spatial Concept,) 
vase, ipss- Terra-cotta, 50 cm high. 
28 cm diameter. Collection of 
A. Mirmla. Turin. 

232. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale ("Spatial Concept) 
vase. ips3- Terra-cotta, 50 cm high, 
}o cm diameter. Collection of Lutgi 
Grampa. Bus to Arsizio. 

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233. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept) 
vase, ipsj. Ceramic, 21. 5 cm high, 
16. s cm diameter. Collection ofGian 
Tomaso Liverani, Galleria La Salita, 

234. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept) 
vase, ipsS- Terra-cotta. f/ cm high, 
27 cm diameter. Collection of Carlo 
de Stefan 1. Vittorio Veneto. 

235. Fausto Melotti 

Gatto fCatJ vase, 1949. Glazed 
ceramic, $8 cm high. Private collection, 


236. Fausto Melotti 

Pesce fFishJ vase. 1949. Glazed 
ceramic, cm high. Private collection, 



237. Fausto Melotti 

Gallo (Cock) vase, ca. ipso. 
Glazed ceramic, 6$x }0 x 21 cm. 
Private collection, Milan. 

238. Fausto Melotti 

Vase. ca. ipso. Ceramic, }j x )} x 19 cm. 
Private collection, Milan. 

237. Fausto Melotti 

Gallo (Cock,) vase, ca. ipso. 
Glazed ceramic, 6$ x $o x 21 cm. 

Private collection, Milan. 

238. Fausto Melotti 

Vase, ca. 1950. Ceramic, $7 x a x 10 cm. 
Private collection, Milan, 

239. Carlo Scarpa 

Vase, Tessuti ( Fabric ) series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
45 cm high. 16 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

240. Carlo Scarpa 

Bowl, Tessuti (Fabric,) series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
4 cm high, 16. $ cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

241. Carlo Scarpa 

Flask, Tessuti (Fabric,) series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
24 cm high. 14 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

242. Carlo Scarpa 

Flask, Tessuti (Fabric,) series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
5J cm high, 12 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

243. Carlo Scarpa 

Flask, Tessuti (Fabric,) series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
20 cm high, 11 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

244. Carlo Scarpa 

Plate, Murrine opache (Opaque 
Murrhinej series, 1940. Opaque 
murrhine glass, 1 x 25.5 x 8 cm. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

245. Carlo Scarpa 

Plate, Serpente murrine opache 
(Serpent Opaque Murrhinej series, 
1940. Opaque murrhine and lattimo 
glass, 7.5 x 1$ x 24 cm. \ 'ennii S ./> . \ 

246. Carlo Scarpa 

Plate, Murrine opache (Opaque 

Murrhinej series, 1940. Opaque 

murrhine glass, 6. $ cm high, 

27 cm diameter. Venini S.p.A.. Murano, 

247. Carlo Scarpa 

Plate, Murrine opache (Opaque 
Murrhinej series, 1940. Opaque 
murrhine glass, 6. s cm high, 
27 cm diameter. Venini S.p.A.. Murano. 

248. Carlo Scarpa 

Vase, Battuti (HammeredJ series, 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
11 cm high, 13 cm diameter. 
Veruni S.p.A., Murano. 

250. Carlo Scarpa 

Vase, Incisi (Engraving,) series, 
1942. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
}2 cm high, 18 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

249. Carlo Scarpa 

Vase, Battuti (Hammered,) series. 
1940. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
j2 cm high, 20 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 


251. Carlo Sc 

Plate, Bitolori con macchie 

(Two-Tone with Spots) series, 1942. 

H lo ten a nil ba ndcrafted glass, $ x 

27 v 24. s tin. Venini S.p.A., 


252. Carlo Scarpa 

Vase, Fili ('Thread) series, 1942. 
Blown and ba ndcrafted glass, 24 
cm bigb, 16 cm diameter. Veniui 
S.p.A., Mnrano. 



253. Gio Ponti 

Carafe, Crinoline series, 1946-48. 
Blown and handcrafted glass, 
28.$ cm high, 12 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Mnrano. 

254. Gio Ponti 

Bottle, Crinoline series, 1946-48. 
Blown and handcrafted glass, 
H cm high, 9 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Mnrano. 

255. Gio Ponti 

Bottle, Crinoline series, 1946-48. 
Blown and handcrafted glass, 
32 cm high, 12 cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Mnrano. 






256. Fulvio Bianconi 
Vase, FazzOletri rllanilkcrchieO 
series, iqjo-so- Zaitfirico.tattimo, bloiiu. 
and handcrafted, glass, 2- cm bigb. 
2-c?n diameter. Venini S./>./\., 
Mara no. 

257. Fulvio Bianconi 

Vase, Multicolori (Multicolori series, 
i9$2. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
20 cm high, is cm diameter. Vettini 
S.p.A., Murano. 

258. Fulvio Bianconi 

Vase, Multicolori (Multicolor) series, 
ip$2. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
27 cm high, 9 cm diameter. 
Venim S.p.A., Murano. 

259. Fulvio Bianconi 

Vase, Multicolori (Multicolor/ series, 
io<,2. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
22 cm high, 12 1 m diarm /> r. 
Venini S.p.A.. Murano. 

260. Paolo Venini 

Vase, Incisi (Engraving) series, 
iprf. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
}8 cm high, 13 cm diameter. 
Venini S. p. A., Murano. 

261. Paolo Venini 

Vase, Incisi (Engraving) series, 
i</$6. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
32.5 cm high. 11 cm diameter. 
Venini S. p. A., Murano. 

262. Paolo Venini 

Vase, Incisi (Engraving) series, 
ip$6. Blown and handcrafted glass. 
52 cm high, 20 cm diameter. 
Venini S. p. A.. Murano. 

263. Massimo Vignelli 

Carafe. Spicchi (Segment) series. 
1957. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
30 cm high. 10 an diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

264. Ludovico Diaz de Santillana 
with Tobia Scarpa 

Vase, Battuti ('Hammered,) series, 
i960. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
4$ cm high. _jj cm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Murano. 

265. Ludovico Diaz de Santillana 
with Tobia Scarpa 

Bowl. Battuti (HammeredJ series, 
i960. Blown and handcrafted glass, 
6 x 60 x 12 cm. Venini S.p.A.. Murano. 

266. Pierantonio Zuccheri 

Vase, Scolpiti (Carved) series, 1968. 
Blown atid handcrafted glass, 
}ocm high, jcm diameter. 
Venini S.p.A., Mnrano. 

267. Carlo Accardi 

Brooch. 1049. Yellow gold, brilliants, 
pearls, and coral. 3 x 7 cm. Collection 0] 
the artist. 

268. Afro [Afro Basaldella] 

Brooch, produced by Masenza. ca. 1958. 
Yellow gold, rubies, and brilliant. 
3.9 x 2.3 cm. Private collection. Rome. 

269. Afro [Afro Basaldella] 

Brooch, produced by Masenza. ca. 1956. 
Yellow gold, rubies, emeralds, and 
sapphire. 6.3 x 5 cm. Private collection. 


270. Afro [Afro Basaldella] 

Earrings, ca. 1949. Yellow gold, 
emeralds, and rubies, each 6.3 x 2.7 cm. 
Private collection. Rome. 



271. Afro [Afro Bosoldello] 

Necklace, ca. 1966. Yellow gold, 

emeralds, and brilliants. 

/,'. f cm diameter. Private collection, 


272. Afro [Afro Bosoldella] 

Ring, ca. 1968. Yellow gold, emeralds, 

and brilliant. 2. s cm diameter. Private 
collection. Rome. 

273. Afro [Afro Bosoldella] 

Brooch, produced by Masenza, 
ca. i960. Yellow gold, emeralds, and 
brilliants, }. 6 x 1 2 cm. Private 
collection, Rome. 

274. Afro [Afro Bosoldella] 

Brooch, ca. 196$. Yellow gold, 
emeralds, and brilliants, si x 3.4 cm. 
Private collection, Rome. 

275. Afro [Afro Bosoldella] 

Bracelet, ca. 1964. Yellow gold, 
} cm high, 6.3 cm diameter. Private 
dilution, Rome. 



276. Alberto Burri 

C.S.L. brooch. 196$. Yellow gold, 
) x 5 cm. Private collection. Italy. 

277. Alberto Burri 

V.V.R brooch, 1967. Yellow gold, 
$.6x 5.9 cm. Private collection. 

278. Alberto Burri 

Gold Brooch No. 1 brooch. 

196J. Yellow gold, 6.5 x5 cm. Private 




279. Giuseppe Capogrossi 

Brooch, ca. 1950. Yellow gold, yellott 
diamonds, and white diamonds. 
4.2 x 2. j cm. Collection of Marta Ntstri 
d'Amico. Rome. 

280. Giuseppe Capogrossi 

Brooch, produced by Fumanti, ca. 1950. 
Yellow gold, diamonds, coral, andonyx, 

6.$ x 4.$ cm. Privatt 1 <>lh 1 tmn. Rotrn . 


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281. Ettore Colla 

Brooch, 1964. based on a 19$} relief. 
Yellow gold, 7 x s cm. Collection of 
Carla Panicali. 

282. Pietro Consagra 

Brooch, ca. 1964-66. Platinum and 
diamonds, j x 4.8 cm. Private collection. 

283. Pietro Consagra 

Brooch, ca. 19^9-60. Yellow gold and 
silver, 6x4.8 cm. Collection of Agnese 
De Donato. Rome. 

284. Pietro Consagra 

Brooch, ca. 1964. Yellow gold, 
6 x 4.5 cm. Private collection. 



285. Piero Dorazio 

Brooch. 1964. Yellow gold, 2.$ x $.$ cm. 
Private collection, New York. 

286. Piero Dorazio 

Brooch. 1964. Yellow gold. ruby, 
brilliant, blue sapphire, and yellow 
sapphire, 2. $ x $. $ cm. Private 

collection. New York. 


287. Lucio Fontana 

Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept,) 
ring, ca. ip62. Yellow gold; band: 
2.} cm diameter; ornament: } x 2.1 cm. 
Collection of Federico and Maria Lt/isa 


288. Lucio Fontana 

let, 1962. Yellou gold: ornament: 
4x6 cm. Private collection. Milan. 

289. Lucio Fontana 

b, 1962. Yellou gold and tinted 
glass, 4.8 x i. 7 cm. Private collection. 

290. Lucio Fontana 

Brooch, 1964 — 6$. Yellow gold. 4x3cm. 
Collation 0] Carla Panicali. 

291. Lucio Fontana 

Ellisse < Ellipse ) bracelet, edition 
wl iso. 1967. Silver and lacquer: 
ornament: i$x 7 c?n. Privatt collation. 

292. Lucio Fontana 

Ellisse (Ellipse) bracelet, produced by 
GEM-Moiltehello. edition p 'l$0, 1967. 
Siher and lacquer: ornament: 15.2 x 
6. - cm. Collection of Joan Sonnabeml. 
Obelisk Gallery. Boston. 

293. Lucio Fontana 

Bracelet. 1967. Yellou gold; hand: 
4 cm high: ornament: 4.$ x 3. s cm. 
Private collection. 




294. Fausto Melotti 

Necklace, ca. 1947. Terra-cotta and 
brass, j$ cm long. Collection of Mart a 
Melotti. Milan. 

295. Fausto Melotti 

Necklace, ca. ipso. Ceramic, 41 cm long. 
Collection of Marta Melotti. Milan. 

296. Fausto Melotti 

Necklace with ornament, prototype, 
ca. 1966. Brass; ornament: 9 x 14 cm. 
Collection of Marta Melotti, Milan. 

297. Fausto Melotti 

Necklace with ornament, prototype, 
ca. 1966. Brass; ornament: 2$ x 7 cm. 
Collection of Marta Melotti, Milan. 

298. Fausto Melotti 

Brooch, prototype, 1959-60. Brass, 
6.$ x 4.$ cm. Collection of Marta 
Melotti, Milan. 






299. Maurizio Mochetti 

Necklace with pendant, ca. 1964, Gold 
and metal; necklace: 14 cm diameter; 
pendant: w x 7 cm. Collection of Carta 

300. Maurizio Mochetti 

Ring, ca. 1964. Gold and metal, 

7 cm high. Collection oj Carta Panicali. 

301. Maurizio Mochetti 

Elettra necklace with pendant. ig6j. 
Stainless steel, solar cells, and gold; 
necklace: is cm diamett r; pendant: 
2x2 cm. Collection oj Bianca M. 
Casadet. Rome. 

302. Giulio Paolini 

Bracelet. 106-. Yellou gold, 2 cm high, 
6.$ cm diameter. Collection "I Marcella 
Marchese, Genua. 

303. Giulio Paolini 

Ring, 1967. Siher, 2 cm diameter. 
Collection 0] Marcella Marchi 


304. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Brooch. 1964-6$. Yellow gold, white 
gold, brilliants, and rubies. 4 x 7 cm. 
Collection o/Carla Pamcali. 

305. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Necklace with ornament. 1966. 
Hammered gold and mother-of-pearl; 
necklace: 46 cm long; ornament: 
13. SX 11 cm. Private collection. Milan. 


306. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Bracelet with pendant and two 
rings, 1967. Yellow gold, diamond, 
and brilliants, 16 cm long. Collection 
ofCarla Panicali. 

307. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Necklaci with pendant, xp66. Yellou 
gold, white gold, and brilliants; 

m I I la, 1 . \7 1 i" long; pendant: 7x6 cm. 
Filiate collection. Rome. 



308. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Ornamente (Ornament,) neck/ate with 
pendant, 1968. U Id and red gold, 

$0 cm high overall. 
Private collection, Milan. 


309a, b. Arnaldo Pomodoro 

Omamente (Ornaments earrings, 
1968. White gold and red gold. 
dimensions unknown. Private ad ledum. 



310. Gib Pomodoro 

Ring, pro,; 'riuseppe Fusari, 

1966. Yellov, old, enamel, 
and diamond; setting: 3.6 cm high. 
Collection ofAngioletta Miroglio, 


311. Gib Pomodoro 

Bracelet, produced by Giuseppe Fusari. 

1967. Yellow gold, white gold, enamel, 
and diamond: ornament: 7.5 x j.5 cm. 
Collection of Giuseppe Fusari. Milan. 

312. Gio Pomodoro 

Brooch. 1966. White gold ami 
enamel, 8.$ x 6.$ cm. Collection of Alia 
P. Lisca. Milan. 

313. Gio Pomodoro 

Necklace, 1966. Yellow gold, white 
gold, red gold, and enamel: ornament: 
8.5 x 12. $ cm. Collection of Alba 
P. Lisca, Milan. 

314. Gib Pomodoro 

Bracelet, 1966. White gold and enamel: 
ornament: 8 x 6.; cm. Collection of Alba 
P. Lisca. Milan. 



315. Gio Pomodoro 

Bracelet, 1967. Yellow gold, white gold, 

rubies, and diamonds, 4. ? cm high, 

6.4 cm diameter. Collection of Gig/io/a 
Gagnoni Pomodoro. 

316. Gio Pomodoro 

Brooch, produced by Giuseppe Fusari, 
1968. Yellow gold, enamel, and 
diamonds. 8. 5 x 10 cm. Collection oj 
Giuseppe Fusari. Milan. 

317. Gib Pomodoro 

Brooch. 1964. Yellow gold, white 
gold, red gold, and rubles. i.j X 8. <, cm. 
Collection oj Gigliola Gagnoni 

318. Giulio Turcato 

Schiava (Slave,) bracelet. 1967. 
Hammered yellow gold, 14 cm high. 
7 cm diameter. Private collection. Rome. 

319. Giulio Turcato 

Schiava (Slave,) bracelet. 196s. Silver. 
II cm high. Private collection. Rome. 

Following two pages: 

320. Giulio Turcato 

Scaramatica (Talismanic,) brooch. 196$. 
White gold, yellow gold, and emeralds. 

7.5 x4 cm. Private collection. Rome. 

321. Giulio Turcato 

Fantasioso (Fanciful) brooch. 1965. 
White gold, yellow gold, brilliants, and 
emeralds. 7. j x j. j cm. Private 
collection. Rome. 

322. Giulio Turcato 

Diadem. 196$. Silver and yellow gold. 
7.5 x 20 cm. Private collection. Rome. 

323. Giulio Turcato 

Segnico (Sign,) brooch. 1966. 
Yellow gold and coral. 9. j x 6 cm. 
Private collection. Rome. 

324. Giulio Turcato 

Trio brooch. 1967. White gold, yellow 
gold, and brilliants. 6 x 8 cm. Private 
collection. Rome. 

325. Giulio Turcato 

Mecamorfosi (Metamorphosis) brooch. 
1968. White gold, yellow gold, 
brilliants, and emerald. <j.$x 7.5 cm. 
Private collection. Rome. 


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326. Giuseppe Uncini 

Brooch, ca. ioso-6o. Yellow gold and 

sapphires. 8x4.5 cm - Private collection. 

328. Gabriele De Vecchi 

Necklace. 1066. Silver: necklace: 17 x 
i$ cm: pendant: $ x }. cm. Collection of 
Marcella Marchese. Genoa. 

327. Giuseppe Uncini 

Earrings, produced />) Masenza, 
ca. 1965. Yellow gold and diamonds, 

each 4 x i.s cm. Private collection. 


329. Gabriele De Vecchi 

Ring. 1966. Silver. 2 cm high: 

1. s cm diameter. Collection of Marcella 

Marchese. Genoa. 


es to review, in a 

The Literature of Art 

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco 

of fine art assumes more precise form when seen in relation to 
neighboring arts — literature, cinema, polemics, and poetry — 
these disciplines are all explored in considerable detail. 

Through these documents, one passes from the climate of war 
to the republican postwar period; from the various modes of 
abstraction to realism (a fierce polemic); from Art Autre (which 
in Italy took the form of the Spazialismo and Informale 
movements) to the different trends of the ip$os and from there to 
the emergence of some independent figures — the so-called 
"disturbers": from the climate of nothingness — the "zero" of art 
theory — to the new space of the image in the 1960s and. at the 
end of that decade, to Arte Povera. One section is devoted 
entirely to the relationship between Italy and the United States. 

Virtually all of the material included in this exhibition 
comes from my own collection. For the dozen or so supplements 
needed to round off the selection. I am indebted to the kind 
assistance of my bookseller friends: Gildo Maresca Riccardi, 
Antonio Pettini, Bruno and Paolo Tonini, and Mario 
Lampariello. Elena Gigli helped me with this work. 


K A C C LT A U I N A it K A I B I 
A Ct/MA tJI euo vrnoHist 

com mrnoraERMi di emilio ceochj 


The decline of Fascism; war; renewal 

The fall of Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime in July 1943 — 
its collapse hastened by the Allied invasion of Italy — was 
the outward sign of a total breakdown. Nazi reprisal, the 
release of Rome, the Allied advance, and liberation 
followed. The arts had registered tensions for some time. In 
1939, a group of artists and intellectuals came together in 
Milan under the banner of Corrente — "A movement," 
wrote Renato Guttuso, "a place of encounters and clashes." 
Corrente held two exhibitions, which included work by 
Pericle Fazzini, Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Ennio Morlotti, and 
Emilio Vedova; both were promoted by Renato Birolli. The 
members of the group published a journal, a series of 
books (rather loose in theme, it included Salvatore 
Quasimodo's Lirici greci [Greek lyrics}; the poems of 
Scipione [Gino Bonichi}, Carte segrete {Secret papers], 1942; 
and the photographs of Alberto Lattuada in Occhio quadrato 
[Square eye], 1941), and pamphlets featuring the emergent 
realism of the group's central figures. 

The spirit of the age was reflected in exhibitions, as well 
as in the poetry of abstraction's central figure, Fausto 
Melotti (in // triste minotauro [The sad minotaur]); the 
prose of Massimo Bontempelli (Introduzione all'apocalisse 
[Introduction to the apocalypse]); and the emblematic 
poetry collections of Eugenio Montale, Quasimodo, 
Umberto Saba, Leonardo Sinisgalli, and Giuseppe 

These were years of struggle, but also years of reflection. 
The Bergamo prize went to the grim paintings of Guttuso 
and Mafai. Italian painters such as Carlo Carra, Enrico 
Prampolini, Alberto Savinio, Gino Severini, and Ardengo 
Soffici reconsidered the lessons of Pablo Picasso (who 
utilized the recent European past as a guide to an 
uncertain present). 

The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome 
reopened, having been closed during the war. Literary 
figures explored the subjects of Christianity and 
Communism (Alberto Moravia) and the late of Europe 
(Savinio). The United States and the Soviet Union, 
victorious in the recent conflict, began to clash on the 
Italian stage. The memorable Americana, an anthology 
edited by Elio Vittorini, with translations by Montale, 
Moravia, Cesare Pavese, and many others, came out while 
the Fascist regime was still in power, but it became the 
banner of a cultural renewal. 

290 The Literature of Art 


Americana: raccolta di narratori 
dalle origini ai nostri giorni 
(Americana: a collection of fiction from 
the beginnings to the present clay). 
Edited by Elio Vittorini. Milan: 
Bompiani. 1942. Front and back covers. 


50 disegni di Pablo Picasso 
(1905— 1938) (Fifty drawings by Pablo 
Picasso ioos-1938). Novara: Edizioni 
di Posizione. 194}. 


Renato Guttuso, Gott mit Uns 
(God is with ns). Rome: Galleria la 
Margherita, 194s- 

Publications in this section 

Italia 194$ (Italy 1943). Florence: Marzocco, 1943. A small 
popular encyclopedia. 

Massimo Bontempelli, Introduzione all'apocalisse 
(Introduction to the apocalypse). Rome: Edizione della 
Cometa, 1942. A reprint of the introductory text to a 
volume of twenty lithographs by Giorgio de Chirico, 
entitled L'apocalisse (The apocalypse), published in 1941 by 
Edizioni della Chimera, Milan. 

Fausto Melotti, // triste minotauro (The sad minotaur). 
Milan: Edizioni Garotto, 1944. A slim volume of poems by 
the great abstract sculptor. 

Americana: raccolta di narratori dalle origini ai nostri giorni 
(Americana: a collection of fiction from the beginnings to 
the present day). Edited by Elio Vittorini. Translated by 
Giansiro Ferrata, Carlo Linati, Eugenio Montale, Alberto 
Moravia, Cesare Pavese, et al. Milan: Bompiani, 1942. 

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Lenin, poema (Lenin, a poem). 
Milan: Einaudi, 1946. Neo-Constructivist jacket designed 
by Albe Steiner. 

Mafai: 24 disegni e una tavola a colori (Mafai: twenty-four 
drawings and a panel painting). Preface by Antonino 
Santangelo. Milan: Edizioni Galleria della Spiga and 
Corrente, 1943. 

Renato Birolli. Edited by Sandro Bini. Milan: Edizioni di 
Corrente, 1941. 

Gino Severini, Matisse. Anticipazioni (Anticipations), 
edited by Enrico Prampolini. Rome: Bocca, 1944. 

Giorgio de Chirico. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Isabella Far. Rome: Galleria del Secolo, 1945. 

Mostra di artisti contemporanei alia Galleria del Secolo 
(Exhibition of contemporary artists at Galleria del Secolo). 
Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria del Secolo, 1944. The 
exhibition included works by Giorgio Morandi. 

National Gallery of Modern Art: Exhibition of Contemporary 
Italian Art. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Palma Bucarelli. Rome: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna, 1944—45. English edition of the catalogue for the 
reopening of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. Cover 
designed by Orfeo Tamburi. 

Alberto Moravia, La speranza, ossia cristianesimo e comunismo 
(Hope, or Christianity and Communism). Rome: 
Documento, 1944. 

Alberto Savinio, Sorte dell'Enropa (The fate of Europe). 
Milan: Bompiani, 1945. 

he macchine di Munari (Munari's machines). Turin: Einaudi, 

Egidio Bonfante and Juti Ravenna, Arte cubista (Cubist art). 
Venice: Edizioni Ateneo, 1945. 

so disegni di Pablo Picasso (1905— ip}8) (Fifty drawings by 
Pablo Picasso 1905- 1938). Texts by Carlo Carra, Enrico 
Prampolini, Alberto Savinio, Gino Severini, and Ardengo 
Soffici. Novara: Edizioni di Posizione, 1943. 

IV Premio Bergamo (Fourth Bergamo prize). Exhibition 
catalogue. Bergamo: Istituto cl'Arti Grafiche, 1942. 

Renato Guttuso, Gott mil Uns (God is with ns). Preface by 
Antonello Trombadori. Rome: Galleria la Margherita, 1945. 

Salvatore Quasimodo, Edesubito sera (And suddenly its 
night). Milan: Mondadori, 1944. 

Giuseppe Ungaretti and Orfeo Tamburi, Piccola Roma 
(Little Rome). Rome: Urbinati, 1944- Includes a poem In 

Eugenio Montale, Le occasion! (The occasions). Fourth 
edition. Turin: Einaudi, 1919; 194?. 

Umberto Saba, 11 canzoniere i<>oo-iy./\ (Collet ted poems 
1900-1945). Rome: Einaudi, 194s. 

Leonardo Sinisgalli, Furor mathematicus. Rome: Urbinati, 
1944. Book and imitation to its presentation at tin Studio 
di Villa Giulia, Rome- [946. 

:>>i Mai iolodell 

The reconstruction years; Fronte Nuovo delle Arti Postwar events followed one another in rapid succession: a 

referendum determining the country's political structure 
was held, a constitution signed, and a moderate 
government formed. Among artists' groups, whose 
principal form of communication and theorizing was once 
again the manifesto, the changes were just as rapid. One of 
the groups found in Rome in 1947 was Forma, whose 
members, including painters Carla Accardi, Piero Dorazio, 
and Giulio Turcato, proclaimed themselves "formalists and 
Marxists.'" The Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, a more 
ecumenical group with adherents in Rome, Milan, and 
Venice, counted Renato Birolli, Bruno Cassinari, Renato 
Guttuso, Ennio Morlotti, Armando Pizzinato, Giuseppe 
Santomaso, Turcato, and Emilio Vedova among its 
members. A neo-Cubist movement, in which Guttuso and 
Turcato were involved, was also born in Rome. For artists 
active in the prewar period, it was a time for reflection: 
immediately after the war, the memoirs of Carlo Carra, 
Giorgio de Chirico, and Gino Severini appeared. 
Autobiography became a vehicle for theory and criticism, 
for unabated polemics, and for planning the new. 

The problem appeared to be a clash between 
abstractionists and realists, but it was actually a question 
of political loyalties. In his journal 11 politecnico 
(Polytechnic), Elio Vittorini proclaimed that the 
intellectual was free to embrace the grand illusion of being 
autonomous, and should not feel constrained to "play the 
fife of the Revolution." 2 

A masterpiece among postwar books was Luigi 
Bartolini's Ladri di bicidette (Bicycle thieves), a literary 
inspiration for neorealist films, such as Roberto Rossellini's 
Roma cittd aperta (Rome open city, 1945; released in English 
as Open City); and the collaborations of Vittorio de Sica and 
Cesare Zavattini, including their adaptation of Bartolini's 
novel in 1948. It was the same atmosphere one found in the 
books of Carlo Levi, Curzio Malaparte, and Vittorini as 
well as in the debate promoted by Pier Luigi Nervi, Gio 
Ponti, and Alberto Sartoris, architects who questioned 
whether architecture was an art or a science. 

Italian artists were once again exhibiting in Europe and 
the United States. In New York in 1949, one found a near 
synthesis of history and current events in the memorable 
exhibition Twentieth-Century Italian Art at the Museum of 
Modern Art in New York. 

1. Untitled manifesto, Forma 1 (Form 1), Rome, no. 1 (April 1947), p. 1. 

2. Elio Vittorini, "Suonare il piffero per la rivoluzione?," II politecnico 
(Polytechnic), 2, no. 35 (January -March 1947), p. 1. 

292 The Literature of Art 


Twentieth-Century Italian Art. 
Exhibition catalogue. Edited by Alfred 
H. Barr, Jr. and James Thrall Soby. 
New York: The Museum of Modern Art. 


Luigi Bartolini, La repubblica 
italiana: considerazioni e proposte 
(The Italian republic: considerations and 
suggestions). Milan: Mondadori, 1946. 


Pier Luigi Nervi. Scienza o arte del 
costruire? Caratteristiche e possibilita 
del cemento armato (Science or art 
of building? Characteristics and 
possibilities of reinforced concrete). 
Rome: Edizioni della Bnssola. 194$. 

Publications in this section 

Costituzione della repubblica italiana (Constitution of the 
Italian Republic). Special edition of the Gazzetta ufficiale 
(Official gazette), Rome, Saturday, December 27, 1947. 

// '4$: Italian Review of Art and Poetry, Milan, no. 1 (1946). 
The editorial staff included Bruno Cassinari, Raffaele de 
Grada, Mario de Micheli, Alfonso Gatto, Renato Guttuso, 
Ennio Morlotti, Ernesto Treccani, and Elio Vittorini. Cover 
designed by Cassinari. 

II politecnico (Polytechnic), Milan, no. 21 (February 16, 1946). 
A weekly magazine edited by Elio Vittorini. 

Carlo Carra, La mia vita (My life). Edited by Leo 
Longanesi. Milan: Rizzoli, 1945. 

Gino Severini, Tutta la vita di un pittore: Roma Parigi (The 
whole life of a painter: Rome Paris). Milan: Garzanti, 1946. 

Giorgio de Chirico, Memorie della mia vita (Memoirs of my 
life). Rome: Astrolabio, 1945. 

Alberto Savinio. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Raffaele Carrieri. Milan: Galleria Borromini, 1947. 

Art concret. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Jean Arp. Paris: Galerie Rene Drouin, 1945. Alberto 
Magnelli was among the artists exhibited. 

Salon des realites nonvelles — art abstrait, concret, 
constructiviste. non figuratif (Salon of the new realities: 
abstract, concrete, constructivist, nonfigurative art). 
Exhibition catalogue. Paris: Palais des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, 1946. Alberto Magnelli was among the 
historic abstractionists exhibited. 

Gino Severini, The Artist and Society . London: The Harvill 
Press, 1946. 

Prima mostra del Fronte Nuovo delle Arti (First exhibition of 
the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti). Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by Giuseppe Marchiori. Milan: Galleria della 
Spiga, 1947. Renato Birolli, Antonio Corpora, Pericle 
Fazzini, Nino Franchina, Renato Guttuso, Leoncillo 
[Leoncillo Leonardi], Ennio Morlotti, Armando Pizzinato, 
Giuseppe Santomaso, Giulio Turcato, Emilio Vedova, and 
Alberto Viani were exhibited. 





tO'Z>OH\ OtlL» BUSMJ.* 

Art Club, Libera Associazione Arti Figurative (Art Club, Free 
partnership for the figurative arts). Exhibition catalogue, 
with introduction by Gino Severini. Rome: Grafico 
Tiberino, 1945. Catalogue to the first exhibition of Art 

Vedova: Diario di Burano (Vedova: Burano diary). 
Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Giuseppe 
Marchiori. Venice: Galleria Sandri, 1947. 

Twentieth-Century Italian Art. Exhibition catalogue. Edited 
by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and James Thrall Soby. New York: 
The Museum of Modern Art, 1949. A vast historical survey 
that ran from Futurism and Metaphysical painting, 
through the Fascist era, to the most recent trends. 

Da Roma citta aperta alia Ragazza di Bube: /'/ cinema 
italiano da I '4$ a oggi (From Rome open city to The Girl from 
Bube: Italian cinema from '45 to today). Edited by Adelio 
Ferrero, Guido Oldrini, et al. Milan: Edizioni Cinema 
Nuovo, 1965. 

Luigi Bartolini, La repubblica italiana: considerazioni e 
proposte (The Italian republic: considerations and 
suggestions). Milan: Mondadori, 1946. 

Curzio Malaparte, Kapntt. Second edition. Naples: Casella, 
1944; Rome: Aria d'ltalia, 1948. 

Elio Vittorini, Uomini e no (Men and nonmen). Milan: 
Bompiani, 1945. Cover designed by Ennio Morlotti. 

Carlo Levi, Cristo si efermato a Eboli (Christ stopped at 
Eboli). Turin: Einaudi, 1945. Painting by the author on the 

Gio Ponti, Larchitettura I un cristallo (Architecture is a 

crystal). Milan: Editrice Italiana, [945. 

Alberto Sartoris, No: posiziont dell'architettura 1 delh arti in 
Italia (No: the position of architecture and the arts in 
Italy). Florence: Edizioni 11 Libro, [947. 

Pier Luigi Nervi, Scienza arti del costruin . 1 
possibilita del cemento armato (S< ience or art of building? 
Characteristics and possibilities of reinforced con< rete) 
Rome: Edizioni della Bussola, [945. 

29! \l., Ull'Arx 

Forma in Rome; MAC in Milan; 
various forms of abstraction 

Around 1950 the status of abstraction, which was in search 
of a history and an identity, was clarified and crystalized. 
In 1948 in Milan, MAC (Movimento Arte 
Concreta/Movement of Concrete Art), which was centered 
around Bruno Munari and Atanasio Soldati, began to gain 
strength. In 1949, also in Milan, Lucio Fontana created the 
first spatial environment. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Capogrossi 
came to maturity with his 1950 show in Rome; the 
catalogue to the exhibition included an introduction by 
Corrado Cagli. Elsewhere, other paths were being proposed 
for abstraction by Afro {Afro Basaldella] and Emiho 

One point of reference singled out at this time was the 
painting of Vasily Kandinsky, which was presented in 
Rome by Piero Dorazio. The artists named their 
precursors; among Italian ones, Osvaldo Licini and Soldati 
were still active. An international audience was found: in 
1950, a large volume of Christian Zervoss Cahiers d'art was 
devoted entirely to Italy; in 1952, a special issue of Art 
d'aujourd'hui (Art of today) on the same subject appeared. 
Roman abstraction had its own magazine, Arti visive 
(Visual arts), edited by Ettore Colla and the poet Emilio 
Villa, and had at its disposal a high-profile gallery, the 
Fondazione Origine, which singled out Giacomo Balla 
(with a show of his work in 1952) as an important historical 
reference point. The exhibition Arte astratta e con ere ta in 
Italia (Abstract and concrete art in Italy), presented in 1951 
at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, seemed a 
promising beginning, but proved almost to be the end of a 
period rich in ferment. 

In Milan, Guido Le Noci, who would become the 
principal dealer of Spazialismo and later of Nouveau 
Realisme, curated Mostra storica dei/'astrattismo italiano 
(Historic exhibition of Italian abstractionism), while MAC 
gathered its most vital forces around the publication of a 
bulletin and the mounting of group shows. In these years, 
the word "abstract" equaled "modern," just as, in other 
connections, the words "Cubist" or "realist" became 
adjectives for modernity with the addition of the prefix neo 
(neo-Cubism, neorealism). 

Today it is easy to see that this vast array contained a 
greatly varied assortment of positions, choices, and 
theories. There were many abstractions, not just one. 

294 The Literature of Art 


Forma i (Form n. Rome. no. i (April 


Arte astrarta e concreta in Italia 
(Abstract and concrete art in Italy ). 
Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria 
Nazionale J' Arte Moderna, 19^1. 


Arte concreta (Concrett art). Mi/an. 
no. i (November iou). 



t ff e m a dell* Kuliun 


Publications in this section 

Forma 1 (Form 1), Rome, no. 1 (April 1947). A monthly 
journal of the figurative arts. The first issue opens with a 
manifesto signed by Carla Accardi, Ugo Attardi, Pietro 
Consagra, Piero Dorazio, Mino Guerrini, Achille Perilli, 
Antonio Sanfilippo, and Giulio Turcato. 

Arte astratta e concreta in Italia (Abstract and concrete 
art in Italy). Exhibition catalogue, with texts by Bruno 
Alfieri, Giulio Carlo Argan, Piero Dorazio, Gillo Dorrles, 
Giusta Nicco Fasola, Albino Galvano, Joseph Jarema, 
Bruno Munari, Achille Perilli, Enrico Prampolini, and 
Ernesto Nathan Rogers. Rome: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna, 1951. 

Wassily Kandinsky. Exhibition catalogue, with text by Piero 
Dorazio. Rome: Galleria dell'Obelisco, 1951. 

Mostra storica dell' astrattismo italiano (Historic exhibition of 
Italian abstractionism). Invitation and bulletin. Milan: 
Galleria Bompiani, 1951. The show was curated by Guido 
Le Noci, who would go on to become an advocate of 

Italie 1951, special issue of Art d'aujourd'hui (Art of today), 
Paris, no. 2 (1952). Cover designed by Bruno Munari. 

Omaggio a G. Balla Futurista (Homage to G. Balla, 
Futurist). Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria Origine, 

Emilio Vedova. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Giuseppe Marchiori. Venice: Edizioni di Arti, 195 1. The 
exhibition was held at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, 
New York. 

Afro. Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Studio d'arte Pal ma, 
1951. • 

Capogrossi. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Corrado Cagli. Rome: Galleria del Secolo, 1950. 

Arte concreta (Concrete art), Milan, no. 1 (November 1951). 
Cover designed by Atanasio Soldati. 

Arte concreta, no. 2 (December 1951). Cover designed by 
Giacomo Balla. 

Arte concnta, no. 5 (March 1952). Cover designed by Bruno 

Arte concreta, no. 6 (April 1952). 

Arte concreta, no. 7 (September 1952). 

Arte concreta, no. 8 (October 1952). Cover designed by 
Atanasio Soldati. 

Arte concreta, no. 10 (December 1952). Cover designed by 
Bruno Munari. 

195 \l... 

Realism in painting, theater, film, and literature Postwar Italian realism seemed to fall under the spell of 

Gustave Courbet's realism (Feltrinelli published a selection 
of Courbet's writings edited by Mario de Micheli and 
Ernesto Treccani, the principal figures of Corrente) or else 
was marked by a Goyaesque despair. This climate did not 
last long, however. 

In cinema, "realism" became "neorealism" in the 
convergent paths of Cesare Zavattini and Vittorio De Sica 
(Miracolo a Milano [1950; released in English as Miracle in 
Milan}), Luchino Visconti (who was also a stage director), 
and Roberto Rossellini. In literature, the epic of the 
Resistance did not produce any texts worth reading, with 
the exception of Italo Calvino's ll sentiero dei nidi di ragno 
(The path of the spider's nests, 1947). The leading figure in 
literature was Alberto Moravia, author of the novel Gli 
indifferenti (The indifferent, 1929), who was destined to 
become a guiding light of the Left. (Renato Guttuso's 
artworks were held in the same regard). Meanwhile, new 
leaves began to sprout on the tree of realism: Pier Paolo 
Pasolini, for example, rediscovered reality in Friulian, the 
dialect of his origins. 

The painters of the time were Guttuso, Fausto 
Pirandello, and Alberto Ziveri, exponents of the Roman 
school still active today. Roberto Longhi would later place 
Ziveri 's work alongside that of Guttuso. Giulio Carlo 
Argan would present the work of Mario Mafai, who was 
destined to become an abstractionist. Mafai's realist 
mentality was ancient, that is, rooted in the past: "To 
discover reality, to accept reality, to undertake not to 
change reality, and to find yet within the confines of reality 
the stuff of illusion and dream."' The theoretical and 
painterly project of Guttuso was entirely bound to the 
present: "I should like to succeed in becoming a tragic 
painter-poet, worthy of this dramatic, heroic age." 2 

As in all such groupings, the supporting roles inevitably 
fade from memory. I note here only the presence of two 
younger figures, Bruno Caruso and Renzo Vespignani, who 
worked out a kind of new realism that was hall "American 
scene" and half introspection. 

1. Mario Mafai, Diario, 1926- 196s (Diary, 1926-1965) (Rome: Edizioni 
clella Cometa, 1984), entry for February 5, 1959. 

2. Renato Guttuso, "Paura del la pittura," Prospettive (Perspectives), 
January 1942, pp. 25 — 27. 

296 The Literature of Art 


Luigi Bartolini, Ladri di bicidette 
(Bicycle thieves). Milan: Longanesi, 



Luchino Visconti presenta Zio Vania 
di Anton Pavlovic Cecov (Luchino 
Visconti presents Anton Pavlovich 
Chekhov's Uncle Vany.w. Playbill. 
Rome. Milan, igss- 


Renato Guttuso. Exhibition catalogue. 
Rome: Studio d'Arh Palma, 1947- 

:J„,y M*k/o&~i 


Publications in this section 

Gustave Courbet, llrealismo: lettere e scritti (Realism: letters 
and writings). Edited by Mario de Micheli and Ernesto 
Treccani. Milan: Feltrinelli, 1954. 

Luigi Bartolini, Ladri di bicidette (Bicycle thieves). Milan: 
Longanesi, 1948. 

Cesare Zavattini, Totb if buono (Toto the good). Milan: 
Bompiani, 1943. Cover art by the author. Zavattini used 
this story as the basis of his screenplay for Vittorio de Sica's 
Miracolo a Milano (1950; released in English as Miracle in 

Guida al cinema (Guide to the cinema). Edited by 
Vittorio Calvino. Preface by Vittorio De Sica. Milan: 
Accademia, 1939. 

Luchino Visconti presenta Zio Vania di Anton Pavlovic Cecov 
(Luchino Visconti presents Anton Pavlovich Chekhov's 
Uncle Vanya). Playbill. Rome, Milan, 1955. 



Bruno Caruso. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Libero de Libera. Rome: Galleria dell'Obelisco, 1954. 
Italo Calvino, // sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The path of the 
spider's nests). Turin: Einaudi, 1947. 

Alberto Moravia, ll conformista (The conformist). Milan: 
Bompiani, 1951. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini, Tal cour di un frut (In a young lad's 
heart). Udine: Edizioni Friuli, 1953. 

Renato Guttuso. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Corrado Alvaro. Rome: Studio d'Arte Palma, 1947. 

Renato Guttuso. Edited by Giuseppe Marchiori. Milan: 
Edizione Moneta, 1952. 

Alberto Ziven. Introduction by Leonardo Sinisgalli. Rome: 
De Luca, 1952. 

Fausto Pirandello. Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria La 
Nuova Pesa, Rome, 1965. 

Cesare Brandi, "La fine dell'avanguardia" (The end of the 
avant-garde). Uimmagine (Image), Rome, nos. 14-15 (1950). 
Essay published in volume form by La Meridiana, Milan, 

Ciarrocchi/Sadun/ScialojalStradone. Exhibition catalogue, 
with introduction by Cesare Brandi. Rome: Galleria del 
Secolo, 1947. Brandi defined Arnaldo Ciarrocchi, Piero 
Sadun, Toti Scialoja, and Giovanni Stradone as "lour artists 
off the beaten track." 

Mafai. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Giulio 
Carlo Argan. Studio d'Arte Palma, Rome, 195 1. 

Renzo Vespignam . Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Rome: Galleria dell'Obelisco, [956. 

197 Mauri !■■ Fagiolo dell 

Polemics of the 1950s: reality and fantasy 

The question gripping Italy during these years — 
"abstraction or figuration?" — would have yielded only a 
sterile kind of painting or sculpture of propaganda. The 
artists involved in the polemics almost always remained 
bound to ideas of progress and renewal; they were in most 
cases "of the Left," as was said in those days. 

The polemicists operated by means of pamphlets, 
more or less forgotten now, like those of Giusta Nicco 
Fasola or Giorgio Kaisserlian. The artists presented a more 
international vision, and one can hardly forget Piero 
Dorazio's book La fantasia dell' arte nella vita moderna 
(The fantasy of art in modern life, 1955). The clash 
became increasingly harsh. Renato Guttuso, the fiercest 
polemicist of the period, faithfully fell in line with the 
ideology of the Italian Communist party. Others believed 
in the autonomy of the intellectual, while nevertheless 
declaring themselves Marxists. 

Elio Vittorini wrote a monograph about Guttuso, who 
also enjoyed the support of Roberto Longhi. The 
abstractionists had the support of Lionello Venturi, and the 
intervention of this great art historian (who fled Italy 
during the years of Fascism) further complicated the 
situation of abstraction. Venturis Otto pittori italiani (Eight 
Italian painters, 1952) and Pittori italiani d'oggi (Italian 
painters of today, 1958) presented an unstable balance 
between Renato Birolli and Giulio Turcato, Afro [Afro 
Basaldella] and Emilio Vedova, Ennio Morlotti and 
Giuseppe Santomaso, Bruno Cassinari and Mario Mafai, 
Fausto Pirandello and Toti Scialoja. The hybrid brand of 
painting known as the "abstract concrete" was thus born. 

The opposing camps of abstraction and figuration 
fought over the right to claim the legacy of Picasso, who 
came to Italy in 1953 for a retrospective curated by Venturi 
in Rome. The debate continued in the reviews Realismo 
(Realism) and La Biennale di Venezia (The Venice 
Biennale), which devoted special issues to the Resistance 
and to realism, respectively, and Arti visive (Visual arts) in 
Rome and / 4 Soli (The four suns) in Turin, which 
debated, between the two cities, the function of abstraction 
and the new paths of the Informale, including American 
Action Painting. 

298 The Literature of Art 


Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, 
Pablo Picasso. Exhibition catalogue. 
Rome: De Luca, 1953. 


Lionello Venturi, Italian Painters of 
Today. New York: Universe Bunks, 



Piero Dorazio, La fantasia dell'arte 
nella vita moderna (The fantasy oj art 
in modern life). Rome: Polveroni e 
Quint i, i9SS- 


Caudogo deUa mostra 

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Publications in this section 

Astratto ofigurativo? (Abstract or figurative?), special issue 
of Ulisse (Ulysses), Florence, 1959. Ulisse was edited by 
Maria Luisa Astaldi. 

Futurismo epittura metafisica (Futurism and Metaphysical 
painting). Exhibition catalogue. Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1950. 

Giusto Nicco Fasola, Ragioni dell'arte astratta (The reasons 
for abstract art). Milan: Istituto editoriale, 1951. Cover 
designed by Max Bill. 

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Pablo Picasso. 
Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Lionello 
Venturi. Rome: De Luca, 1953. 

Vedova. Realismo, a review of the figurative arts, was 
founded in 1953. 

Elio Vittorini, Storia di Renato Guttuso (The story of Renato 
Guttuso). Milan: Edizioni del Milione, i960. 

La Biennale di Venezia (The Venice Biennale), Venice, 12, 
nos. 46—47 (December 1962). Special issue devoted to 
realism, with writings by Guido Aristarco, Rosano 
Assunto, Luigi Chiarini, Corrado Maltese, and Paolo 

Alberto Ziveri. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Roberto Longhi. Rome: Galleria La Nuova Pesa, 1964. 

Arti visive (Visual arts), Rome, nos. 6—7 (summer 1957). 
Special issue, devoted to Arshile Gorky, of the review of the 
Fondazione Origine, edited by Ettore Colla. 

/ 4 Soli (The four suns), Turin, 1, no. 1 (January 1954). A 
review of contemporary art, edited by Adriano Parisot. 

Lionello Venturi, Italian Painters of Today. New York: 
Universe Books, 1959. The Italian edition was published by 
De Luca, Rome, in 1958. 

Otto pittori italiani (Eight Italian painters), edited by 
Lionello Venturi. Rome: De Luca, 1952. 

Piero Dorazio, La fantasia dell'arte nella vita moderna 
(The fantasy of art in modern life). Rome: Polveroni e 
Quinti, 1955. 

Piet Mondrian. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Palma Bucarelli. Rome: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna, 1956. 

Kandinskij. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Palma Bucarelli. Rome: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna, 1958. 

llpericolo incombe (Danger looms), a play by Alfredo 
Zennaro. Illustrations by Renato Guttuso. Milan: 
Palcoscenico Popolare, 1950. 

Realismo (Realism), Milan, 3, no. 2 (1955). Special issue 
devoted to the Resistance, including text by Mario de 
Micheli, Renato Guttuso, Ennio Morlotti, Armando 
Pizzinato, Giovanni Testori, and Giulio Turcato, and 
illustrations by Renato Birolli, Guttuso, Mario Mafai, 
Morlotti, Armando Pizzinato, Aligi Sassu, and Emilio 

199 Mauri I . ..lain dell 

Origine; Spazialismo; Informale 

From abstraction's rib were born the first manifestations of 
Art Informel in Italy — Informale — around 1949. Artists 
associated with this movement experimented with 
materials, signs, and the liberated gesture. In 1951, a small 
catalogue of the Origine group, which consisted of Mario 
Ballocco, Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi, and Ettore 
Colla, was published in Rome. Having returned from 
Argentina, where he had launched the Manifesto bianco 
(White manifesto) in 1946, Lucio Fontana had been active 
in Milan since 1947. His Spazialismo was a magnanimous 
attempt to revive connections with the universality of 
Futurism's ideas. 

Michel Tapie was the real theorist of Art Informel in 
Europe from 1951. That year, he mounted the show 
Vehemences con fron tees (Juxtaposed vehemences), in which he 
placed paintings of Capogrossi alongside those of Willem 
de Kooning, Georges Mathieu, Jackson Pollock, and Wols 
[Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze-Battmann]. He published 
Un art autre (Art Autre) in 1952, the same year that Harold 
Rosenberg coined the term "action painting." 

American museums, galleries, and critics were 
immediately interested in the collage canvases of Burri, 
who would go from tar to sacks to wood to iron in his 
works; Capogrossi, who in his Superfici (Surfaces) series 
developed the theory of the rhythmic sign; and Colla, who 
came out with assemblages of scrap iron, classically 
arranged. Architect Luigi Moretti, in his review Spazio 
(Space) and elsewhere, rallied behind Tapie and became 
interested in the techniques of Informale. The poet 
Leonardo Sinisgalli, with the review Civilta delle macchine 
(Culture of the machines), was the technological fellow- 
traveler of these artists, who seemed to reject mathematics 
and even composition. 

As with abstraction, we can speak of several 
informalisms, because there were different variations of the 
problem. Isolated in Venice, Emilio Vedova arrived at a 
dramatic structure that could only recall the work of 
Pollock. Ennio Morlotti complicated Informale with the 
"ultimate naturalism" theorized by Francesco Arcangeli, 
Roberto Longhi's pupil. Surrounded by imitators, Fontana 
expanded the value of experiment beyond art itself by 
realizing Umberto Boccioni's prophecy: "the painting will 
no longer suffice.'" 

1. Umberto Boccioni, La scultura futurista manifesto tecnic (Futurist 
sculpture technical manifesto. Milan, 1913). 

300 The Literal /ire of Art 


Michel Tapii, Un art autre: oil il 
s'agit de nouveaux devidages du reel 
(An other art: in which it is a question 
of new unwinding! of the real). Pain: 
Gabriel Giraiid. 1952. 


Giampiero Giant. Spazialismo, origini 
e sviluppi di una tendenza artistica 
(Spatialism: origins and growth of an 
art movement). Milan: Edizioni cle/la 
Conchiglia, 1958. 


The New Decade: Twenty-two 
European Painters and Sculptors. 
Exhibition catalogue. New York: The 
Museum of Modern Art. ipsS- 



un art*™ 

41 Klipil . <i <|. ... 

■ x 



! ^y; 

Publications in this section 

Michel Tapie, Un art autre: ou il s'agit de nouveaux devidages 
du reel (Art Autre: in which it is a question of new 
unwindings of the real). Paris: Gabriel Giraud, 1952. 
Among the Italians included in Tapie's discussion were 
Giuseppe Capogrossi and Gianni Dova. 

Origine. Manifesto by Mario Ballocco, Alberto Burri, 
Giuseppe Capogrossi, and Ettore Colla. Rome, January 
1951. The manifesto was issued simultaneously with an 
eponymous exhibition of Origine, the Informale group of 

Burri. Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria dell'Obelisco, 

Paintings by Alberto Burri. Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by James Johnson Sweeney. Pittsburgh: 
Carnegie Institute, 1957. The exhibition traveled to 
Chicago, Buffalo, and San Francisco in 1958. 

Michel Seuphor, Capogrossi. Venice: Edizioni del Cavallino, 

Colla. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Lawrence 
Alloway. London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1959. 

Accardi. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Hereward Lester Cooke. Rome: Galleria San Marco, 1955. 

Spazio-caratteri della pittura d'oggi (Space-characteristics of 
today's painting). Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Luigi Moretti and Michel Tapie. Rome: Galleria Spazio, 
1954. The exhibition included works by Alberto Burri, 
Giuseppe Capogrossi, and Gianni Dova alongside those by 
Sam Francis, Georges Mathieu, Jackson Pollock, Mark 
Tobey, Wols, and the COBRA artists. 

Giampiero Giani, Spazialismo. origini e sviluppi di una 
tendenza artistica (Spazialismo: origins and growth of an art 
movement). Milan: Edizioni della Conchiglia, 1958. Works 
by Giuseppe Capogrossi, Luigi Crippa, Mario De Luigi, 
Lucio Fontana, and others are considered. 

Fontana. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Agnoldomenico Pica. Venice: Edizioni del Cavallino, 1955. 

Fontana. Introduction by Giampiero Giani. Venice: 
Edizioni del Cavallino, 1958. 

Arte nucleare (Nuclear art). Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by Beniamino del Fabbro. Venice: 
Ca' Giustinian, 1954. 

Younger European Painters, with introduction by James 
Johnson Sweeney. New "York: Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, 1953. Alberto Burri and Giuseppe Capogrossi 
were exhibited together with some thirty Europeans and 

The New Decade: Twenty-two European Painters and Sail finis. 
Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Andrew C. 
Ritchie. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1955. 
Included in the exhibition were Afro [Afro Basaldella], 
Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Luigi Minguzzi, and 
Mirko {Mirko Basaldella], alongside Francis Bacon, Jean 
Dubuffet, Andre Soulages, and others. 

The Art of Assemblage. Exhibition catalogue. New York: The 
Museum of Modern Art, 1961. The exhibition, which was 
curated by William C. Seitz, included works by Enrico Baj, 
Alberto Burri, Ettore Colla, and Mimmo Rotella, alongside 
those by Jean Dubuffet, Louise Nevelson, Robert 
Rauschenberg, and others. 

Francesco Arcangeli, "Una situazione non improbabile" 
(A not unlikely situation). Paragone (Comparison), Florence, 
no. 85 (1957). Arcangeli's theory of ultimate naturalism 
coincides with the theory of Informale. 

Morlotti. Exhibition catalogue, with preface by Giovanni 
Testori. Ivrea: Olivetti, 1957. 

Leoncillo Leonard i. Introduction by Roberto Longhi. Rome: 
De Luca, 1954. 

Emilio Vedova, Blatter am dem Tagebuch (Pages from the 
diary). Edited by Werner Haftmann. Munich: Prestel, 1 

Spazio (Space), Rome, t, no. 1 (Jul) 1950). A review ol an 
and architecture edited by Luigi Moretti. 

Civiltd delU macchim (Culture ol the machines), Rome, r, 
no. i (March 19s?). A review edited bj Leonardo Si nisgaili. 

301 Mauri l 1 .mln ih It \<. 

The 1950s: cinema, literature, criticism, 
architecture, and magazines 

Italian culture of the 1950s aroused the interest of the 
entire world. There was a whole range of new offerings in 
the fields of design, poetry, and cinema during the period 
of reconstruction that led to the boom of the "economic 

Italian cinema conquered Europe and won Oscars in 
Hollywood. There were the poetic reportage of Federico 
Fellini (assisted by, among others, the writer Ennio 
Flaiano), the historical reconstructions of Visconti, the 
estrangement and alienation of Michelangelo Antonioni, 
and the first explosive images of Pasolini. 

Literature was alive and well with posthumously 
published books by Cesare Pavese (who committed suicide 
in 1950), the early broadsides of Leonardo Sciascia, and the 
unprecedented success of 11 gattopardo (The leopard) by 
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, not to mention 
highly interesting books by Giorgio Bassani and Carlo 
Emilio Gadda. 

Architecture witnessed the rise of Gio Ponti's new style, 
which was reminiscent of Art Deco but clearly of the 1950s. 
Franco Albini, Ignazio Gardella, and Luigi Moretti (with 
his great interest in art-world developments) were the 
examples to be followed. 

The world of journals and reviews was rich and varied. 
In 1950, Roberto Longhi started the art review Paragone 
(Comparison), which also had a literary alter ego directed 
by his wife, Anna Banti. For poetry, there was the 
international Botteghe oscure (Dark shops), while for new 
fiction there was // menabb di letteratura (The blueprint for 
literature), edited by Elio Vittorini and Italo Calvino. The 
leftist culture of the moment was represented by such 
reviews as // contemporaneo (The contemporary), while 
Ojficina (Workshop) heralded the terms of the cultural 
debate of the 1960s. 

In the area of art criticism, Giulio Carlo Argan 
succeeded Lionello Venturi, while Gillo Dorfles in Milan 
offered an international vision of current criticism. The 
review Cittu aperta (Open city), edited by Renzo 
Vespignani, had no certainties to offer, only doubts. 

302 The Literature of Art 


Federico Fellini, La dolce vita (Tat 
tweet life). Bologna: Cappelli, i960. 


Lionello Venturi, Arte moderna 
(Modern art). Rome: Bocca, 1956. 


II Menabo di letteratura (The 
blueprint for literatim ). no. 1 1 ivsv). 


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Publications in this section 

Federico Fellini, La dolce vita (The sweet life). Edited by 
Tullio Kezich. Bologna: Cappelli, i960. The film first 
appeared in movie theaters in i960. 

Ennio Flaiano, Un marziano a Roma (A martian in Rome). 
Turin: Einaudi, i960. Notebooks of the Teatro Popolare 

Bertolt Brecht, Lanima buona di Sezuan (The good spirit of 
Szechwan). Playbill. Milan: Piccolo Teatro della citta di 
Milano, 1957 — 58. Playbill for a performance directed by- 
Giorgio Strehter. 

Henry Miller, Uno sguardo dal ponte (A view from the 
bridge). Playbill. Rome: Teatro Eliseo, January 18, 1958. 
Playbill for a performance of Miller's play directed by 
Luchino Visconti. 

Michelangelo Antonioni, 11 grido (The outcry). Edited by 
Elio Bartolini. Bologna: Capelli, 1957. 

Cesare Pavese, La bella estate (The beautiful summer). 
Turin: Einaudi, 1950. 

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, ll gattopardo (The 
leopard). Milan: Feltrinelli, 1958. Written in the last years 
of the author's life, its publication, overseen by Giorgio 
Bassani, was posthumous. 

Giorgio Bassani, Cinque storie ferraresi (Five stories of 
Ferrara). Turin: Einaudi, 1956. 

Pittori chescrivono (Painters who write). Edited by Leonardo 
Sinisgalli. Milan: Edizione della Meridiana, 1954. An 
anthology of writings and drawings including text by 
Giuseppe Capogrossi, Lucio Fontana, Renato Guttuso, 
Mario Mafai, Ennio Morlotti, Fausto Pirandello, Toti 
Scialoja, Giulio Turcato, and Alberto Ziveri. 

Lionello Venturi, Arte moderna (Modern art). Rome: Bocca, 

Giulio Carlo Argan, Studi e note (Studies and notes). Rome: 
Bocca, 1955. 

Gillo Dorfles, Ultime tendenze nell'arte di oggi (The latest 
trends in contemporary art). Milan: Feltrinelli, 1961. 

Gio Ponti, Amate I'architettura—l'architettura I un cristallo 

(Love architecture: architecture is a crystal). Genoa: Vitali e 
Ghiandi, 1957. 

Botteghe oscure (Dark shops), Rome, no. 21 (1958). A review 
under the direction of Marguerite Caet.ani and edited by 
Giorgio Bassani. The review was founded in 194S. On the 
frontispiece, there is a table of contents in English. 

// menabo di letteratura (The blueprint for literature), Turin, 
1, no. 1 (1959). Edited by Elio Vittorini and Italo Calvino, 
ten issues of the review were printed, up to i960. This first 
issue includes Lucio Mastronardi's "II calzolaio di 
Vigevano" (The shoemaker of Vigevano). 

Officina (Workshop), Bologna, 3, nos. 9-10 (June 1957). 
A bimonthly poetry pamphlet edited by Francesco 
Leonetti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Roberto Roversi, twelve 
issues were published, from 1955-59. Nos. 9—10 contains ' 
"La liberta stilistica" (Freedom of style) by Pasolini and 
"Piccola antologia neo-sperimentale" (Small neo- 
experimental anthology). 

Paragone (Comparison), art series, 1, no. 1 ( January 1950). 
Paragone, literature series, 1, no. 6 ( June 1950). 
A review edited by Roberto Longhi (art series) and Anna 
Banti (literature series). 

// contemporaneo (The contemporary), Novara, no. 9 

(December 1958). A review edited by Antonello 
Trombadori, with an editorial committee consisting ol 
Renato Guttuso, Carlo Melograni, Velso Mucci, Carlo 
Salinari, and Albe Steiner. 

;<>; Mam 1 i I tgiolo Jell 

From the United States to Rome and vice versa Even during the Fascist era, one of the horizons of freedom 

was the United States. In 1953, three years after his death in 
1950, Cesare Pavese's anthology La letteratura americana 
(American literature) was published. Young and not so 
young Italian artists thought of the United States as the 
ultimate audience for their efforts. 

A number of important exhibitions in the 1950s were 
curated by universities and museums, such as Columbia 
University in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art 
in Boston, and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. 
Among the Italian artists exhibited in the United States 
were Afro [Afro Basaldella}, Piero Dorazio (who moved to 
New York in 1954), Lucio Fontana, and Toti Scialoja. In 
Rome, the Rome— New York Art Foundation was 
instituted, on the Isola Tiberina. 

The opposite was also true, however: for many American 
painters and researchers, Rome, Milan, and Venice were 
still promised lands. At the Venice Biennale, the latest 
trends were presented every two years. In 1947, Peggy 
Guggenheim settled in Venice with her fine collection of 
Surrealist and abstract art, and every now and then held 
exhibitions of Italian artists as well. In 1953, the 
Fondazione Origine presented an exhibition of works from 
the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 
The works of Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Robert 
Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, and Cy Twombly came to 
Italy, as did many of the artists themselves. Often it was 
Italian artists who provided the support for their colleagues 
from across the ocean — Afro presented an exhibition of 
work by Gorky at Galleria dell'Obelisco, Rome, in 1957, for 

It might be said that, as with the infusion of American 
film stars and directors drawn to Rome's Cinecitta (the 
"Hollywood on the Tiber"), one could witness Action 
Painting in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome; at the tables of 
the Bar Rosati, Twombly could be seen with Afro and 
Giulio Turcato, while Rauschenberg chatted with dealers 
or poets. What went on was a mutual discovery between 
Italy and the United States that would culminate in the 
triumph of Pop art at the 1964 Biennale. These solid, valid 
points of contact would soon shatter, however. 

304 The Literature of Art 


Rome— New York Art Foundation, 
New Trends in Italian Art/'Nuove 
tendenze dell'arte italiana. Exhibition 
catalogue. Rome: I sulci Tiberina, 1958. 


Painting in Post- War Italy, 
1945-1957. Exhibition catalogue. New 
York: Columbia University, iv\-. 


Arshile Gorky. Exhibition catalogue. 
Rome: Galleria dell'Obelisco, ig$j. 

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Publications in this section 

Rome— New 'York Art Foundation, New Trends in Italian 
Art IN note tendenze dell'arte italiana. Exhibition catalogue, 
with introduction by Lionello Venturi. Rome: Isola 
Tiberina, 1958. The exhibition included works by Carla 
Accardi, Afro, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Pietro Consagra, 
Ennio Morlotti, Mimmo Rotella, and Emilio Vedova. 

Cesare Pavese, La letteratura americana e altri saggi 
(American literature and other essays). Turin: Einaudi, 1953. 

Leonardo Sinisgalli, Viaggio a Neu' York (Journey to New 
York). Rome: Mobili Mim, 1961. 

Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today. Exhibition 
catalogue. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1950. 
Cover designed by Corrado Cagli. 

Italian Artists of Today. Exhibition catalogue, with preface 
by Giulio Carlo Argan. Rome: Art Club, 1951. 

Painting in Post-War Italy. 194s- 1957. Exhibition catalogue, 
with introduction by Lionello Venturi. New York: 
Columbia University, 1957. 

Salute to Italy. Exhibition catalogue. Hartford: Wadsworth 
Atheneum, 1961. 

Young Italians. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Alan Solomon. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 

DeChirico. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Acquavella 
Gallery, 1947. 

Afro. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Lionello 
Venturi. New York: Catherine Viviano Gallery, 1955. 

Afro. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Lionello 
Venturi. New York: Catherine Viviano Gallery, i960. 

Scialoja. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Catherine 
Viviano Gallery, 1956. 

Fontana. Catalogue from the exhibition Ten Paintings of 
Wince. New York: Martha Jackson Gallery; [961. 

Piero Dorazio, Cartographies. New York: Rose Fried 
Gallery, 1954. 

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Museum of Non-objective Painting: Loan Exhibition. 
Exhibition catalogue. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Foundation, 1950. Four paintings by Dorazio were included 
in the exhibition. 

Mostra Fondazione R. Solomon Guggenheim [sic]. Exhibition 
catalogue. Rome: Fondazione Orig ine, 1953. Catalogue 
to an exhibition of works from the Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Foundation. 

Peggy Guggenheim, Una collezionista ricorda (A collector 
remembers). Venice: Cavallino, 1956. 

Mostra di scultura contemporanea presentata da Pegg i 
Guggenheim (Exhibition of contemporary sculpture, 
presented by Peggy Guggenheim). Exhibition catalogue. 
Venice: Peggy Guggenheim, 1949. Catalogue to an 
exhibition including works by Jean Arp, Constantin 
Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Pietro Consagra, Alberto 
Giacometti, Marino Marini, Mirko [Mirko Basaldella], 
Henry Moore, Nikolas Pevsner, and Alberto Viani. 

Jackson Pollock. Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by Peggy Guggenheim and texts by Bruno 
Alfieri, Oreste Ferrari, and Giuseppe Marchiori. Venice: 
Sala Napoleonica, 1950. 

American Artists Paint the City. Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by Lionello Venturi. Venice: Biennale di 
Venezia, 1956. Catalogue to the American section ol the 
1956 Biennale. Works by Willem de Kooning, Edward 
Hopper, Franz Kline, Reginald Marsh, Georgia O'Ket I 
Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Joseph Stella, and Mark Tobev 
were exhibited. 

2$ anni di pittura americana (Twenty-five years of American 
painting). Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria Nazionale 
d'Arte Moderna, [958. The exhibition included works bj 
Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Edward I tapper, 

Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Mark Tolxv 

Arshilt Gorky. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction bj 
Afro. Rome: ( ralleria dell'( )belis< 0, 195 

Fram Kline. Exhibition brochure. Rome Galleria La 
Tartaruga, [958. 

Mark Rothko. Exhibition catalogue. Edited In Raima 
Bucarelli. Rome: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, \ 

7 I xhibition catalogue, with introduction b\ Palma 
Bucarelli. Rome: Galleria La Tartaruga, [958 

305 Via rizio I 


James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de 
Chirico. New York: The Museum oj 
Modern Art, ig^S- Frontispiece and 
title page. 


Pier Paolo Pasolini. Una vita violenta 
(A violent life). Milan: Garzanti. 1959. 


Carlo Mollino, II messaggio dalla 
camera oscura: fotografia, storia ed 
estetica (The Message of the darkroom: 
photography, history, and aesthetics). 
Turin: Chtantore. 1949. 

Independent painters, writers, architects, and 

Those isolated writers and painters who, though having 
seemingly completed their vital cycle, nevertheless 
continued to affect the cultural scene with their disturbing 
presence, merit a section apart. 

In New York, while James Thrall Soby was publishing 
his important study of Giorgio de Chirico for the Museum 
of Modern Art, the artist, very much alive and kicking, 
produced some nostalgic but high-quality painting and 
inspired a renewal of figurative offerings from other artists. 
The same was also true of Mario Mafai and Giorgio 
Morandi, both of whom finally found real recognition. Such 
abstractionists as Osvaldo Licini and Fausto Melotti found 
a new youthfulness during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Carlo Emilio Gadda, an engineer from Milan, offered 
writing that combined dialect and linguistic overlappings, 
and was strikingly close to the experimentation of 
artists at the time. The work of Pier Paolo Pasolini 
achieved sudden success, and he passed quickly from 
philology and poetry to the realist novel and hyperrealist 
filmmaking. The work of Tommaso Landolfi, Eugenio 
Montale, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Sandro Penna continued to 
evolve: isolated but hardly marginalized, through literature 
they brought Futurism and Surrealism up to date. In 
Turin, Italo Calvino offered a kind of fable apparently 
outside of time, with a writing style reminiscent of Jorge 
Luis Borges's Biblioteca di Babdt (Library of Babel), which 
was translated into Italian in 1955. 

Of note among nonliterary works, the books of Carlo 
Mollino, an ingenious architect/designer, passed blithely 
from the world of photography to that of sports. 

306 The Literature <>/ Art 

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Publications in this section 

James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de Chirico. New York: The 
Museum of Modern Art, 1955. 

Giorgio de Chirico. Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Circolo 
della Stampa, i960. 

Giorgio Morandi. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by James Thrall Soby. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 

Mario Mafai. Introduction by Libero de Libera. Rome: 
De Luca, 1949. 

Mino Maccari, II superfluo illustrato (The illustrated 
superfluous). Rome: Rossetti, 1948. 

Osvaldo Licini. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Giuseppe Marchiori. Ivrea: Centra Culturale Olivetti, 

Fausto Melotti. Exhibition catalogue. Edited by Maurizio 
Fagiolo dell'Arco. Turin: Galleria Notizie, 1968. 

Alberto Savinio, Scatola sonora (Resonance box). Milan: 
Ricordi, 1955. A posthumous collection of Savinio's writings 
on music. 

Jorge Luis Borges, La biblioteca di Babele (Library of Babel). 
Translated by Franco Lucentini. Turin: Einaudi, 1955- An 
important book for artistic thought of the 1960s, the first 
Italian edition was published as part of Elio Vittorini's 
series / gettoni (The tokens). 

Carlo Mollino, Lauditorium di Torino (The auditorium of 
Turin). Turin: Edizioni ERI, 1962. 

Carlo Mollino, // messaggio dalla camera oscura: fotografia, 
storia ed estetica (The message of the darkroom: 
photography, history, and aesthetics). Turin: Chiantore, 

Carlo Mollino, Introduzione al discesismo (Introduction to 
downhill racing). Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1950. 

Carlo Emilio Gadda, Q//er pasticciaccio brutto de via 
Merulana (That awful mess on via Merulana). Milan: 
Garzanti, 1957. 

Poesia dialettale del Novecento (Twentieth-century dialect 
poetry). Edited by Mario dell'Arco and Pier Paolo Pasolini. 
Parma: Guanda, 1952. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini, Una vita violenta (A violent life). Milan: 
Garzanti, 1959. 

Aldo Palazzeschi, Roma (Rome). Florence: Vallecchi, 1953. 

Sandra Penna, Poesie (Poems). Milan: Garzanti, 1957. 

Tommaso Landolfi, Ombre (Shadows). Milan and Florence: 
Vallecchi, 1954. 

Eugenio Montale, La bufera e altro (The storm and other 
poems). Venice: Neri Pozza, 1956. 

Italo Calvino, // barone rampante (The rearing baron). Turin: 
Einaudi, 1957. 

307 Ma polo dell 

After Informale; monochrome; Azimuth 

Experimentation with sign, gesture, and material struggled 
hard to assert itself, and as usual, in the space of a few 
years, it had given rise to an array of followers only to 
become a tired, common language. It became necessary to 
find a way out. The first new idea, whose prophet was 
Lucio Fontana, was to reduce the overloaded value of color. 
Progressive art found links between Milan and Diisseldorf, 
Rome and Leverkusen, Padua and Amsterdam. Within a 
very few years, between 1958 and 1963, the new avant-garde 
was in many ways consistent with the New York neo-Dada 
of the time. 

One programmatic exhibition was Monochrome Malerei 
(Monochrome painting), curated by Udo Kultermann at 
Leverkusen in the spring of i960; Enrico Castellani, Piero 
Dorazio, Fontana, Francesco Lo Savio, Piero Manzoni, and 
Salvatore Scarpitta were among the artists exhibited. The 
Koncrete Kunst show, curated by Max Bill, put recent 
developments into a historical context. In 1961, John Cage 
published his influential writings under the emblematic 
title Silence. 

Yves Klein's Twelve Chromatic Propositions, exhibited at 
Galleria Apollinaire in Milan in 1957, seemed to have been 
prompted by Fontana's instigations. In 1958, Manzoni 
presented his Achromes in Milan, and Francesco Lo Savio 
worked on his idea of Spazio-luce (space-light) in Rome. 

In 1959, the ranks closed. Dorazio exhibited his sensual 
monochromatic grids in Berlin (accompanied by a 
catalogue essay written by Giulio Carlo Argan); Manzoni 
exhibited his 12 linee (Twelve lines) in Milan and, with 
Enrico Castellani, founded the review Azimuth, which had 
its own gallery. Also in Milan, Gruppo T was born, as was 
Gruppo N in Padua; both groups engaged in experiments 
with technology and the reduction of the image to nothing. 

In i960, Franco Angeli, Tano Festa, Lo Savio, Mario 
Schifano, and Giuseppe Uncini — five painters for whom 
monochromaticism had become law — exhibited in Rome. 
Group Zero was born in Diisseldorf The offerings of Jannis 
Kounellis and Scarpitta were presented in Rome, while Lo 
Savio exhibited with Ad Reinhardt at Leverkusen. In 1962, 
the year in which Klein died, the movement reached its 
summit; in 1963, with the deaths of Manzoni and Lo Savio, 
experimentation with light in all its valences, with a degree 
zero in painting, with the solemn beauty of nothingness, 
came to an end. 

308 The Literature oj Art 


Zero, Dinamo (Zero, dynamo). 
Diisseldorf, 3 (1961). 


Piero Manzoni: 12 linee (Piero 
Manzoni: twelve lines). Exhibition 
catalogue. Milan: Galleria Azimut, 


Ad Reinhardt, New York -Francesco 
Lo Savio, Rom-Jef Verheyen, 
Antwerpen. Exhibition catalogue. 
Leverkt/sen: Stadtisches Museum. 1961. 

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Publications in this section 

Zero, Dinamo (Zero, dynamo), Diisseldorf, 3 (1961). The 
review featured works by Enrico Castellani, Piero Dorazio, 
Lucio Fontana, and Piero Manzoni alongside those by 
Arman, Pol Bury, Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, Marc Piene, 
Raphael Soto, and Jean Tinguely. 

Gruppo (Group Zero). Exhibition catalogue. Amsterdam: 
Stedelijk Museum, 1962. Works by Piero Dorazio, Lucio 
Fontana, and Francesco Lo Savio were exhibited. 

Koncrete Kunst. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Max Bill. Zurich: Helmhaus, i960. An exhibition, curated 
by Bill, of work by the historical central figures of concrete 
art along with the most recent developments. 

Monochrome Malerei. Exhibition catalogue, with 
introduction by Udo Kultermann. Leverkusen: Stadtisches 
Museum, i960. An exhibition, curated by Kultermann, 
including work by Italians Enrico Castellani, Piero 
Dorazio, Lucio Fontana, Francesco Lo Savio, Piero 
Manzoni, and Salvatore Scarpitta alongside work by other 
European artists. 

John Cage, Silenzio (Silence). Edited by Renato Pedio. 
Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971. The book was first published in 
English in 1961 as Silence: Lectures and Writings. 

Roma i960: Cinque pittori — Angel i. Festa, Lo Savio, Schifano, 
Uncini (Rome i960: five painters — Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio, 
Schifano, Uncini). Exhibition catalogue, with introduction 
by Pierre Restany. Rome: Galleria La Salita, i960. 

Ad Reinhardt, New York— Francesco Lo Savio, Rom-Jef 
Verheyen, Antwerpen. Exhibition catalogue. Leverkusen: 
Stadtisches Museum, 1961. 

Francesco Lo Savio, Spazio-luce: evoluzione di un'idea (Space- 
light: the evolution of an idea), volume 1. Texts by William 
Demby, Udo Kultermann, and Leonardo Sinisgalli. Rome: 
De Luca, 1962. 

Kounellis. Exhibition brochure. Rome: Galleria La 
Tartaruga, i960. 

Scarpitta. Exhibition catalogue, with texts by Salvatore 
Scarpitta and Leonardo Sinisgalli. Rome: Galleria La 
Tartaruga, 1958. 

Rauschenberg, Twombly, Kounellis, Tinguely, Schifano. 
Exhibition brochure. Rome: Galleria La Tartaruga, [961. 

Buchi e tagli di Lucio Fontana (Holes and cuts of Lucio 
Fontana). Exhibition catalogue. Turin: Politecnico di 
Torino, 1966. 

Piero Dorazio. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Giulio Carlo Argan. Berlin: Galerie Springer, 1959. 

Yves Klein le monochrome, il nuovo realismo del colore (Yves 
Klein the monochrome, the new realism of color). 
Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Pierre Restany. 
Milan: Galleria Apollinaire, 1961. 

Azimuth, Milan, no. 1 (1959). Azimuth, no. 2 (January i960). 
A review edited by Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni. 

Piero Manzoni: 12 linee (Piero Manzoni: twelve lines). 
Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Vincenzo 
Agnetti. Milan: Galleria Azimut, 1959. 

Castellani e Manzoni : (Castellani and Manzoni). Exhibition 
brochure. Rome: Galleria La Tartaruga, 1961. 

''•■'. I tgiolo Jell \' 

The 1960s: experimentalism, figuration, 
and planning 

The 1960s were years in which the economic miracle of the 
previous decade was consolidated. Italy was now without 
question a full member among industrial nations. In the 
visual arts, an increasingly rich revival of the image was in 
evidence. In 1964, the arrival of American Pop art in Venice 
was a decisive moment that divided critics into two camps. 
Literature turned a new page with the Novissimi and 
Gruppo '63; the trend was subdivided into the "open work" 
of Umberto Eco, the informalism of Edoardo Sanguined, 
the bare poetry of Elio Pagliarani, and the imaginative 
richness of Alberto Arbasino. 

Many of the artists of the preceding decade attained the 
status of "classics": for example, Alberto Burri, with his 
explorations of the disturbing beauty of plastic; Lucio 
Fontana, who, starting out from silence (the white cut, the 
monochrome canvas), ended up at his Teatrini, works full 
of irony; Mimmo Rotella, who was able to build new 
images with trash from the street. The Nouveau Realisme 
theorized by art historian Pierre Restany had become a 
major avenue. 

New types of images cropped up in rapid succession, 
especially in Rome, Milan, and Turin. In Rome, Franco 
Angeli, Tano Festa, and Mario Schifano offered echoes of 
Informale, while Jannis Kounellis presented alphabetical 
letters floating in primary space. New paths were opened 
by Pino Pascali, who worked with theatrical gesture and 
primordial elements. 

In Turin, Michelangelo Pistoletto focused on divided and 
existential images that took off from Francis Bacon but 
bordered on Pop art; Giulio Paolini presented the enigma 
of the concept. In Milan, there arose the neo-Metaphysical 
and neo-Purist quests of Lucio del Pezzo and Valerio 
Adami, respectively. 

The increasingly animated abstraction scene also 
continued to develop. Piero Dorazio offered an art of highly 
colored signs. Various groups offered multiplied, planned, 
or kinetic works. 

It was a lively decade, one that witnessed, among other 
things, the deeply nostalgic phenomenon of the "new 
figuration," which in the end would leave few marks. 

310 The Literature of Art 


presents an exhibition ol factual 
paintings & sculpture Irom France 
England Italy Sweden and the 
United Slates by the artists 
Aaosiim Arman Bai Baruchelio 
Blake Christo Dine Fahlatrom 
Fesla Hams Indiana Klein Latham 
Llchtemlein Moslcowiiz Oldenburg 
Phillips Raysse Rosenquist Rotella 
Schllano Segal Spoern Sti 
Thiebaud Tinguely Ultvedt Waihol 
Wesselmann opening October 31 
Irom A to 7 pm at 15 East 57 Slreel 
New York and continuing through 
December 1 1962 under the title ol the 


New Realists. Exhibition catalogue. 
New York: Sidney Janis Gallery, 1062. 


XXXII esposizione Biennale 
Internazionale d'Arte-Venezia 1964- 
Stati Uniti d'America-Quattro pittori 
germinali, quattro artisti piu giovani 
{Thirty-second Biennale exhibit ion - 
Venice 1964— United States of 
America -four germinal painters, four 
younger artists}. Exhibition catalogue. 
New York: The Jewish Museum, 1964. 


Arte programmata: arte cinetica, opere 
moltiplicate, opera aperta (Planned 
art: kinetic art. multiplied works, open 
work). Exhibition catalogue. Milan: 
Negozio Olivetti, 1962. 

Publications in this section 

/ novissimi: poesie per gli anni '60 (The Novissimi: poems for 
the 1960s). Edited by Alfredo Giuliani. Milan: Rusconi & 
Paolazzi, 1961. Includes poems by Nanni Balestrini, Alfredo 
Giuliani, Elio Pagliarani, Antonio Porta, and Edoardo 

Gruppo ' 6y. la nuova letteratura, Palermo ottobre 1963 (Gruppo 
'63: the new literature, Palermo, October 1963). Edited by 
Nanni Balestrini and Alfredo Giuliani. Milan: Feltrinelli, 
1964. The record of a conference whose participants 
included Alberto Arbasino, Gillo Dorfles, Umberto Eco, 
Giorgio Manganelli, Elio Pagliarani, and Cesare Vivaldi. 

Umberto Eco, Opera aperta: Forma e indeterminazione nelle 
poetiche contemporanee (Open work: form and indeterminacy 
in contemporary poetics). Milan: Bompiani, 1962. 

Alberto Arbasino, Fratelli d'ltalia (Brothers of Italy). 
Milan: Feltrinelli, 1963. 

Giorgio Manganelli, La letteratura come menzogna 
(Literature as lie). Milan: Feltrinelli, 1967. 

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Rapporto 60: le arti oggi in Italia 
(1960s report: the arts in Italy today). Rome: Bulzoni, 1966. 

Carla Lonzi, Autoritratto: Accardi, Alviani, Castellam. 
Consagra, Fabro, Fontana, Kounellis, Nigra. Paolini, Pascali. 
Rotella, Scarpitta, Turcato. Twombly (Self-portrait: Accardi 
et al.). Bari: De Donato, 1969. 

Burri. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Cesare 
Brandi. Rome: Galleria Marlborough, 1962. Catalogue to 
the first show of Bum's Plastiche (Plastics). 

Rotella: dal decollage alia nuova immagine (Rotella: from 
decollage to the new image). Edited by Pierre Restany. 
Milan: Edizioni Apollinaire, 1963. 

New Realists. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Sidney Janis 
Gallery, 1962. Enrico Baj, Tano Festa, Mimmo Rotella, and 
Mario Schifano were shown alongside Nouveau Realisme 
and Pop artists in what the gallery called an exhibition of 
"factual paintings and sculpture." 

Rauschenberg. Exhibition brochure. Rome: Galleria La 
Tartaruga, 1959. 

Lichtenstein. Exhibition catalogue. Turin: Galleria II Punto, 
1963. Roy Lichtenstein's first solo exhibition in Italy. 

Jim Dine. Exhibition catalogue. Turin: Galleria Sperone, 

XXXII esposizione Biennale Internazionalc d'Arte-Venezia 
1964—Stati Uniti d' America— Quattro pittori germinali, 
quattro artisti piu giovani (Thirty-second Biennale 
exhibition-Venice 1964-United States of America-four 
germinal painters, four younger artists). Exhibition 
catalogue. New York: The Jewish Museum, 1964. The 
entries in the American section of this Biennale were part 
of the explosion of Pop art in Europe. 

New Dada e Pop art Newyorkesi (New Dada and New York 
Pop art). Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Luigi 
Malle. Turin: Museo Civico di Torino, 1969. A survey, 
curated by Malle. 

Una generazione: Ada mi. Angeli. Anco. Castellam. Del Pezzo. 
Festa, Mari, Pozzati. Recalcati. Schifano (A generation: 
Adami, et al.). Rome: Galleria Odyssia, 1965. 

Pistoletto: A Reflected World. Exhibition catalogue. 
Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1966. 

Kounellis. Schifano. Twombly. Exhibition brochure. Rome: 
Galleria La Tartaruga, 1961. 

Kounellis. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Cesare Vivaldi. Rome: Galleria La Tartaruga. [964. 

Pascali. Exhibition brochure, with text by Cesare Vivaldi. 
Rome: Galleria La Tartaruga, [965. 

Mauri/.io Fagiolo dell'Arco, Pit ro Dorazio. Rome: Officina, 

Arte programmata: artt cinetica, open moltiplicate, opera 
aperta (Arte Programmata: kineti< art, multiplied works. 
open work). Exhibition < atalogue, with int rodu< t ions In 
Bruno Munan ami I fmberto Eco. Milan: Negozio Olivetti, 
[962. Catalogue to an exhibition 1 urated In Munan 

Miriorama w. Exhibition brochure, with introduction In 
Luc 10 font. ma. Rome: ( ralleria La Salita, 1961. ( atalogu< to 
the first exhibition in Rome of Gruppo T of Milan: 
( riovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gianni ( olombo, 
Gabriele De Vecchi, and ( rrazia Varis< 0. 

<u Maun I 

A new degree zero Over the course of a few years, the triumph of the image 

quickly became a redundant spectacle without quality, as 
had happened a decade earlier with the experimentation of 
Informale. Thus a new degree zero, of nothingness, was 
imposed. Some achieved it through a reduction to pure 
elements; others through a return to the simplicity of the 
concept. Still others achieved it through the rediscovery of 
matter in the material state; thus Arte Povera was born. 

Arte Povera was named in 1967, with an exhibition, 
curated by Germano Celant, that included works by 
Ahghiero Boetti, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Giulio 
Paolini, Pino Pascali, and Emilio Prini alongside a number 
of proponents of image painting. The reference points for 
these artists were the "poor theater" of Jerzy Grotowsky 
and Minimal art, the new American trend that was 
reducing the Pop iconosphere to zero. In Turin, at Galleria 
Sperone, the Pop artists were replaced by the leading 
figures of Minimal art. In 1967, Michelangelo Pistoletto had 
come out with the prophetically titled pamphlet Le ultime 
parole famose (Famous last words). 

What was taking place was a search for new spaces and 
new modes of behavior that went beyond the simple 
elaboration of the artistic object. One major figure was 
Giulio Paolini, a Borgesian alchemist of the concept, while 
in Rome Pino Pascali and Jannis Kounellis proposed in 
their work a return to the zero base of nature and the 

The sensitive seismograph of artistic experimenters 
anticipated political and social events. It was the age of 
global revolt against the system, the crises of 1968. It was a 
true cancellation that did not seem to propose a new 
beginning for artistic research. 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

(12 The Literature of Art 


Germano Celant, Arte povera. Milan: 
Gabriele Mazzotta, 1969. 


Minimal Art. Exhibition catalogue. 
The Hague: Hcui^s Gementemuseum, 


Michelangelo Pistoletto, Le ultime 
parole famose (Famous last wards). 
Turin: Author. 1967. 

germano celant 


gabriele mazzotta editore 



Publications in this section 

Arte povera (Boetti, Fabro, Kounellis, Paolini, Pascali. Print) — 
Im-Spazio (Bignardi, Ceroli, Icaro, Mambor, Mattiacci, 
Tacchi). Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Germano Celant. Genoa: Galleria La Bertesca, 1967. 

Jerzy Grotowsky, Per un teatro povero (Toward a poor 
theater). Rome: Bulzoni, 1968. The English edition, Toward 
a Poor Theater, was also published in 1968. 

La povertd dell arte (The poverty of art). Texts by Umbro 
Apollonio, Francesco Arcangeli, Renato Barilli, Vittorio 
Boarini, Renato Bonhglioli, Achille Bonito Oliva, Maurizio 
Calvesi, Germano Celant, Antonio Del Guercio, Giorgio 
De Marchis, Maurizio Fagiolo, Renato Guttuso, and 
Lamberto Pignotti. Bologna: Galleria de' Foscherari, 1968. 

Germano Celant, Arte povera. Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta, 

Conceptual Art, arte povera, land art. Exhibition catalogue. 
Edited by Germano Celant. Turin: Galleria Civica d'Arte 
Moderna, 1970. 

Minimal Art. Exhibition catalogue. The Hague: Haags 
Gemeentemuseum, 1968. The exhibition included works by 
Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and 
Robert Morris. 

Kounellis. Exhibition catalogue. Rome: Galleria l'Attico, 

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Le ultime parole famose (Famous 
last words). Turin: Author, 1967. 

Pistoletto. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by Giulio 
Carlo Argan. Rome: Galleria l'Attico, 1968. 

Lo zoo presenta due spettacoli (The Zoo presents two shows). 
Performance brochure, with introduction by Achille Bonito 
Oliva. Naples: Galleria Centro, 1969. 

Mario Merz. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Germano Celant. Turin: Galleria Sperone, 1968. 

Giovanni Anselmo. Exhibition catalogue, with texts by 
Germano Celant and Maurizio Fagiolo. Turin: Galleria 
Sperone, 1968. 

Gilberto Zorio. Exhibition catalogue, with introduction by 
Tommaso Trini. Turin: Galleria Sperone, 1968. 

Contestazione estetica e azione politica (Aesthetic revolt and 
political action), special issue of Cartabianca (Carte 
blanche), Rome, 1, no. o (November 1968). Cartabianca was 
edited by Alberto Boatto. 

Dan Flavin. Exhibition catalogue. Milan: Galleria Sperone, 

Robert Morris. Exhibition catalogue. Turin: Galleria 
Sperone, 1969. 

Giulio Paolini, 2121969. Exhibition catalogue. Milan: 
Galleria De Nieubourg, 1969. 

Giulio Paolini, Cib che non ha limiti e cui per la wa \tessa 
natura non ammette limitazioni di sorta (That winch has no 
limits and by its own very nature accepts no limitations 
whatsoever). Turin: Author, 1968. 

Germano Celant, Giulio Paolini. New York: Sonnabend 
Press, 1972. 

Pino Pascali. Exhibition catalogue. Turin: Galleria Sperone, 
1966. Pascali's Cannons were exhibited. 

513 Maui I iolodell 




BBfMr >■■■.- -^ 

Reality and Italian 

halo Zannier 

Pictorialism and contamination by Fascist elements. 
Fotografia: Prima rassegna dell 'attivita fotografica in Italia 
(Photography: first survey of photographic activity in Italy) 
was designed by Albe Steiner, who would later leave an 
authoritative mark on elite Italian publishing, and in 
perusing the book's large, glossy pages, one notices above 
all an up-to-date graphic sense, European in style and 
emphasis. In a brief preface the publisher, Gianni 
Mazzocchi, declared his wish, "with the publication of this 
volume, to affirm the technical and artistic maturity of 
Italian photographers," adding that it was the first time in 
Italy that "so complete a survey was being published." The 
goal was to be "a documentation of the art and technique 
of our photographers, which will also serve to erase 
the old prejudice of foreign superiority in the field of 
photography." 'Italian photography, in fact, had long been 
isolated, if not actually marginalized, from international 
debate, especially that provoked by the various avant-garde 
movements. In the first decades of the twentieth century 
the avant-gardes — Dada and Surrealism in France and the 
interdisciplinary experimentation, Rationalist and 
Constructivist, of the Bauhaus in Germany — had stirred 
up a revolutionary fervor that extended to photographic 
aesthetics. In the 1920s such journals as the French Vu 
(Seen), edited by Lucien Vogel, and the German Berliner 
lllustrierte Zeitung (Berlin illustrated magazine), edited by 
Stefan Lorent, for example, were known for their 
explorations in the new genre of photojournalism. 

In Italy, however, despite such new developments as the 
abstractionist aesthetic of the Modernist school 
(represented by Vincenzo Balocchi [see cat. nos. 380, 422}, 
Achille Bologna, Stefano Bricarelli, and Giuseppe Pagano 
[see fig. 1]), which avoided the ruling kitsch of 
Pictorialism, the milieu of photography remained 
provincial and amateurish. The path taken by Italian 
photography, at this time, can be followed in the pages of a 
handful of specialized magazines, especially La fotografia 
artistica (Artistic photography), published from 1904 to 
1917 in Turin by Annibale Cominetti and featuring 
contributors from all over the world 2 ; and, after World 
War I, // corriere fotografico (The photographic courier), 
published in Turin by Carlo Baravalle, Bologna, and 
Bricarelli. Then, in 1933, Luigi Andreis became the editor 
of the monthly Galleria (Gallery), an Italian version of the 
Viennese Die Galerie. Although this publication provided 
information on international photographic trends, it 
neglected, perhaps for political reasons, the work of the 
avant-garde. Consequently the photographs of such artists 
as Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy were known only to a 
handful of Italian intellectuals, who kept privately, almost 
clandestinely, in touch with "extremists" abroad, especially 
in Paris. 

Luigi Veronesi, whose experiments with non-objective 
photography (cat. no. 379) made him, with Franco 
Grignani, among the most advanced photographers in 
1930s Italy, corresponded with the Bauhaus refugee Moholy- 
Nagy. Separately and in isolation, Veronesi, who was above 
all an abstract painter, and Grignani, an architect, designer, 
and graphic artist, pursued an aesthetic that distinguished 
itself from both Pictorialism and Modernism. At the same 
time a second wave of Futurism, represented by such 
photographers as Arturo Bragaglia, Tato [Guglielmo 

316 Photography 

Sansoni}, and Wanda Wulz, began to emerge. Images 
created by these photographers tended to comply with the 
Fascist rhetoric of the time: "swift ocean liners, airplanes, 
cars, rumbling engines, the glorious militias of 
Mussolini."' There was an emphasis on the old Marinettian 
myths, which had been dusted off especially in 
anticipation of the great Rome exhibition in 1932, 
organized in celebration of the Fascist regime's first decade. 
One need only recall // tavolo degli "orrori" (The Tcible of 
"Horrors. " 1932), a Pier Maria Bardi photomontage, which 
was exhibited alongside the collages of Bruno Munari 
(whose primary formal influences were the German avant- 
gardists Raoul Hausmann, John Heartfield, and Hanna 
Hoch, but whose political ideology was somewhat 

Much more significant for the future direction of Italian 
photography, however, were the photodynamist 
experiments of the brothers Anton Giulio and Arturo 
Bragaglia, which had been carried out between 1911 and 
1913. For the Bragaglia brothers photography was no longer 
to be merely descriptive and informative; the image was to 
be expressive of an idea. In one of the first essays on the 
aesthetics of photography, one that took its bearings from 
the European avant-garde, Anton Giulio Bragaglia 
reflected, "We can now advance along two great paths: the 
scientific one, for the analysis and the individual study of 
every movement; and the artistic one, for the re-evocation 
of the dynamic sensation that the transcendental part of a 
gesture produces on our retina, on our senses, and in our 
spirits." 4 

This was a revolutionary hypothesis when one considers 
the street scenes of the likes of Count Francesco Chigi, 
Baron Francesco Saverio Nesci, and Count Giuseppe 
Primoli, and the Pictorialism of such figures as Giulio 
Gatti-Casazza, Rho Guerriero, and Guido Rey — sunsets, 
shepherd boys in pastures, figures dressed in Greek and 
Roman costume, and so on — which dominated the field of 
traditional Italian photography at the time. 

The yearning for a photography intended not only as an 
art but as a language found its sole outlet in the 1920s and 
early 1930s in a number of publications of architecture and 
design, among them Casabella (House beautiful), edited by 
Edoardo Persico and Giuseppe Pagano, and Domus, edited 
by Gio Ponti. Ponti, in fact, wrote one of the most lucid 
and prophetic considerations of the modernity of 
photography, which appeared three years after Antonio 
Boggeri's famous essay on advertising photography. 
Published in 1929 in the annual Luci ed ombre (Lights and 
shadows), Boggeri's text emphasized the importance of 
advertising for the development of photography. For 
Boggeri it is to advertising that "we owe the greatest 
advancements in photography as creation and detachment 
from representative realism, and in whose fundamental 
aim — the valorization, by the hidden personality, of the 
thing represented — lies the seed from which the photogram 
is born." 1 To Boggeri's idea of photographic reality Ponn 
added, "The photographic aberration is for many things 
our only reality; it is for many things our very consciousness, 
and it is therefore our judgment. It constitutes a large part 
of our visual perception" (italics in original).' 

Photography found increasingly broader applications 
over the next ten years, especially in the representation of 

' v^;5«r 





n, f 


fig. 1. Giuseppe Pagano. Fontana 
Pretoria I Pretoria Fountain A 1938. 
Gelatin-silver print. 13. 5 x 8. f cm. 
Collection oj Ferruccio Malandrini, 


fig. 2. Pietro Donzelli. Atmosfera 
(Atmosphere). 1946. Gelatin-silver 
print, ox 6cm. Archivio Pietro 
Donzelli. Milan. 

317 Italo Zannier 

architecture, which was, in fact, the area in which research 
and enthusiasm for the "new art" grew most rapidly. 
Architectural images fill the 1943 Fotografia yearbook, 
which, it may be recalled, was published by the 
architectural magazine Damns. And many of the 
photographs in the volume were by architects — such as 
Vito Latis, Gabriele Mucchi, Pagano, and Enrico 
Peressuti — or designers and graphic artists — such as 
Grignani, Steiner, and Veronesi. 

Italian photojournalism was also coming into its own, as 
defined by Federico Patellani (see cat. nos. 382-87) in the 
pages of Fotografia in an essay entitled "II giornalista nuova 
formula" (The new formula journalist). In that essay 
Patellani brought into focus his recent experiences as a 
photojournalist for the weekly magazine Tempo (Time), 
which Alberto Mondadori had begun publishing in 1938 on 
the model of such photomagazines as Life from America 
and Signal from Germany, and his reflections on the 
identity of photography, which he championed with the 
same ideas as Henri Cartier-Bresson, a better-known 
photographer and the influential theorist of the image a la 
sauvette (image on the run). For Patellani movement was all 
important: "Quickness is the quality with which the 
photographer- journalist must be endowed. ... It is 
more interesting to photograph something living and in 
motion. . . . Photography of movement requires the choice 
of a narrative moment that the cinema has accustomed 
us to seeing."" 

Although the Fotografia annual may have represented 
advanced practice in the medium of photography, a 
number of counter-tendencies existed as well. In 1943 
Alex Franchini Stappo and Giuseppe Vannucci Zauli 
(see cat. no. 378) published a little volume entitled 
Introduzione per un'estetica fotografica (Introduction for an 
aesthetics of photography), in which a number of aesthetic 
criteria for the practice of photography were proposed. 
Among the necessary preconditions for a valid Modernist 
photography, according to the authors, is a balance among 
lighting, moment, and "rendering," that is, the rigorous 
control and planning of the final print: "These three values 
(lighting-moment-rendering) are but three aspects of the 
aesthetic unity: they cannot exist separately from one 
another." 8 

Such a formalist position influenced, while sharing some 
of the values of, the still-elitist amateur photography scene, 
the only area, at the time, where an attempt was being 
made to claim photography as an autonomous artistic 
language. Among its emergent figures were Balocchi, 
Giuseppe Cavalli, Ferruccio Leiss, and Federico Vender, 
who were among the few to attempt advanced explorations 
without betraying the perceived objectivity of the medium. 
The one exception was Veronesi, who was especially 
influenced by the Bauhaus and by the work of Georges 
Vantongerloo's Parisian group Abstraction-Creation, which 
Veronesi joined in 1930. 

For its part professional photography in the 1940s was 
given over to studio craft — the Alinari brothers' smooth 
and classical style of art and architectural photography 
and portraiture dating from 1852 to 1920 — and to 
advertising and industrial photography. Mario Crimella, 
for example, operated an important art photography 
studio in Milan with Mario Castagneri, a fine portraitist 

of the 1920s, and Vittorio Villani gained renown for his 
efficient industrial laboratory in Bologna. 

Among the most effervescent and fashionable 
portraitists of the period was Elio Luxardo, who soon 
established himself as a sublime photographer of film stars. 
Luxardo, who hailed from Brazil but was of Dalmatian 
origin, opened an elegant studio in Rome in 1932 to serve 
the artists of the Cinecitta film studios. His style was, from 
the first, lively, cheerful, almost syncopated, like the Italian 
jazz of the period. Luxardo's photographs, composed on the 
diagonal, are characterized by back-lit contrasts, often 
animated by a spotlight that had been projected onto the 
subject's fan-tousled hair. The photographs were inevitably 
retouched, but with a lightness of hand that, while 
removing imperfections, did not affect the spontaneity of 
the subject's expression. This "Luxardo style" quickly 
spread to the provinces, where it had an effect on fashions 
in photoportraiture into the postwar years. 

In 1944 Luxardo went to Milan and became dangerously 
involved with the Fascist Republic of Salo. He had been, in 
fact, one of the most representative photographers of 
Benito Mussolini's national regime, and his work displayed 
a hedonism that could almost make one forget the war and 
its sacrifices. His photographs — including a series of male 
nudes that today make one think of Robert 
Mapplethorpe — tended above all to evidence the ultimate 
myths of italica hellezza, or Italianate beauty (cat. nos. 
366—370). At the same time that Luxardo was part of the 
last ditch efforts of Fascists in the North, the brutal 
subject matter of war was now being featured in the 
liberated South in illustrated magazines like Tempo, where 
Patellani and Lamberti Sorrentino began to make names for 
themselves as special correspondents in the tradition of the 
senior Luigi Barzini and Orio Vergani. And the 
consequences of the Allied bombings are forever captured 
in the Archivio Publifoto in Milan, one of the most 
important archives of the Italian photographic patrimony. 

. Italian photography was, in any case, acquiring a new 
face, abandoning, as Ermanno Scopinich pointed out in the 
1943 Fotografia annual, "the themes of sheep at pasture, 
light reflections, and sunsets on the lake {and] concerning 
itself instead with 'the world, life, and the changing 

These new concerns can be seen in Occhio quadrato 
(Square eye), a little book of photographs by Alberto 
Lattuada (see cat. nos. 371-73), published in 1940 by the 
courageous publishing house of Scheiwiller. This volume 
contained a few images in sequence, "naked geometries, 
squalid tenements, a grim and sad atmosphere," as 
Giuseppe Turroni later wrote, "prefiguring the formal 

structure of many short films of the postwar period, such 

as those of Michelangelo Antonioni, Luigi Comencini, and 
Francesco Maselli. Lattuada can be said to have anticipated 
the style of neorealism, which came to dominate the style 
of Italian photography for at least a decade. Even the 
photographers of the agencies, such as Peppino Giovi, Tino 
Petrelli, and Fedele Toscani — all from the Publifoto agency 
(see cat. no. 388), founded by Vincenzo Carrese in 1936 — or 
the "boys" of Tullio Farabola's agency began to address the 
themes of poverty and urban decay. 

The outskirts of the big cities, with their shanties, poor 
people, and undernourished children — images that 

318 Photography 

inspired the great films of such directors as Vittorio De 
Sica and such scriptwriters as Cesare Zavattini — were the 
subjects of the new photographic iconography. Such 
photography had no pretensions to art but rather saw itself 
as pure testimony, as compared to the more intellectual 
commitment of a Patellani or, soon after him, the 
neorealist group. Its practitioners, largely amateurs, were 
culturally guided by a leftist ideology. In 1946, for example, 
Elio Vittorini founded in Turin ll politecnico (Polytechnic), a 
journal in which photography came to occupy a dialectical 
function that went beyond mere illustration. It was in this 
magazine, in fact, that Luigi Crocenzi, a scholar of 
cinematic and photographic language, would launch his 
pioneering experiments in visual narration, influenced by 
the semiological schemata of the popular picture 
magazines, especially the new genre of the fotoromanzi 
(photonovels). A signifcant amateur photographer of the 
time was Carlo Mollino, an architect by profession, who 
beginning in the 1930s had found in photography a 
congenial medium for his metaphysically influenced 
creativity (see cat. nos. 374, 375). 

"The early artistic intentions of photography," 
complained Leo Longanesi in 1949 in // immdo che cambia 
(The changing world), "have given way to the documentary 
sensibility. . . . Photographic beauty has found its proper 
realm in violent death."" Longanesi was alluding to the 
first crime news reports, which had been forbidden under 
the Fascist Ministry of Culture. But, as Antonio Arcari 
later wrote, "there have also been those who have taught us 
that history is also the history of those who till the land, 
who build the houses, who work in the factories."'' Arcari 
was thus synthesizing the aspirations of neorealism, which 
had a profound effect on postwar Italian culture, gaining 
many adherents among young photographers. 

The main ideologue of photographic realism — though 
not its champion — was Pietro Donzelli (see fig. 2, cat. 
nos. 419-21), who at the time was especially influenced by 
the photographers of the United States's Farm Security 
Administration, in particular Walker Evans and Dorothea 
Lange. Donzelli's realism combined an expressionistic 
roughness, perhaps caused by the simultaneous influence of 
theorist and photographer Otto Steinert's subjektive fotografi 
(subjective photography) and a "lyrical realism," Franco 
Russoli's description of the Italian tendency to sweetness, 
which Russoli detected in the work of Piergiorgio Branzi 
(see figs. 3, 4, cat. nos. 416, 417, 447-49), Toni Del Tin (see 
cat. nos. 427-29), Nino [Antonio] Migliori (see cat. nos. 
430, 431), and Fulvio Roiter (see fig. 5, cat. nos. 423-26)." 

Not everyone, however, jumped on the neorealist 
bandwagon. In 1947 Giuseppe Cavalli (see cat. nos. 407-10) 
founded the group La Bussola (The compass) with Mario 
Finazzi (see cat. nos. 412, 413), Leiss (see cat. no. 415), 
Vender (see cat. no. 411), and Veronesi (see cat. no. 414). 
Their intention was to orient photographic practice in a 
formalist direction and away from neorealist and 
documentary trends. "It is necessary for La Bussola to truly 
guide its followers in the field of art, leading them away 
from the wrong paths," Cavalli wrote. By "wrong paths" he 
meant "documenting the ruins of war, machines and men 
in the context of the present civilization of speed and 
mechanics." "The document is not art," he added 
preemptorily, laying down the gauntlet in the bitter 

fig. 3. Piergiorgio Branzi, Nozze a 
Valencia (Wedding in Valencia,), 
ca. ipso. Gelatin-silver print, ji x 
29 cm. Collection of Ferruccio 
Malandrini, Florence. 

fig. 4. Piergiorgio Branzi, Concadino 

del sud ^Southern Farmer Peasant). 
ca. 1955. Gelatin-silver print, 38. 8 x 
29 cm. Collection of Italo Zannii r, 

Venn i 

(19 Italo Zannier 


yzg. $. Fulvio Rotter. Jean Cocteau chez 
Peggy Guggenheim in Venice ( Jean 
Cocteau at Peggy Guggenheim's in 
Venice^. ip$p. Gelatin-silver print, 
28.5 x 20. 8 cm. Museo di Storia delta 
Fotografia Fratelli Alinari, Collezione 
Italo Zannier, Florence. 

fig. 6. Alfredo Camisa. Scuola coranica 
' Koranic School ), 1956. Gelatin-silver 
print, ^ x 29 cm. Collection ofFerruccio 

MaLntJvnn. Florence. 

postwar debate about what Italian photography should be. M 
As Turroni pointed out in his critical writings, Cavalli 
actually aggravated "the famous conflict — experienced 
particularly in socially backward cultures — between 'art 
for art's sake' and 'art for life's sake.'"" 

Mario Giacomelli (see cat. nos. 434—39, 444), a student 
of Cavalli's, was one of the few photographers to remain 
genuinely indifferent to the debate, while nevertheless 
combining the seemingly contradictory positions of the 
formalists and the neorealists. Developing his own poetics 
of photography, he embraced theologian Theihard de 
Chardin's notion of "terrestriality": mankind integrated 
into the primitive terrestrial landscape from which one 
receives the vital sap. Captured directly from reality by an 
eye both lucid and selective, Giacomelli 's images poetically 
and dramatically suggest this concept. 

In effect, photography in postwar Italy was rediscovered 
not only as an artistic language but also as a means of 
bearing witness. In the postwar period young 
photographers began to travel a great deal, even on bicycle, 
especially to the South of Italy. There they discovered a 
landscape and a culture that had largely been ignored since 
the nineteenth century, when the South of Italy had been 
part of the Grand Tour of Americans and Europeans before 
crossing the Mediterranean on their way to Greece and the 
Middle East. 

The South became a kind of rite for Italian 
photographers. Ando Gilardi and Franco Pinna were among 
the first to catalogue the secular and religious rituals of 
Calabria and Lucania, which they did in 1946 for the 
anthropologist Ernesto De Martino. Tino Petrelli (see cat. 
no. 389), in 1948, discovered the misery of Africo, a little 
village perched atop a mountain in the Calabrian 
Appenines; three years later, Mario De Biasi (see cat. nos. 
390, 391, 440) photographed the bassifondi (underworld) of 
the poor in Naples, whose ground-level hovels so 
characterized the city. Roiter brought to visual life the 
labors of the sulphur miners in Sicily. Others discovered 
their own little corners of Italy, continuing up to the 
feature stories of Alfredo Camisa (see fig. 6, cat. no. 446), 
who followed the tuna and swordfish fishermen as they 
pursued their labors; the work of Branzi, who ventured 
among the blinding rocks of Matera; and the images of 
Enzo Sellerio (see fig. 7), who wandered the working-class 
quarters of Palermo. 

Then in the late 1950 a highly transgressive form of 
photography came on the scene. Its practitioners, the 
creators of an unconscious but functional iconographic 
transgression, were the paparazzi, as they came to be called 
after Federico Fellini recounted their deeds in the film La 
dolce vita (The sweet life, i960; released in English as La 
Dolce Vita). One of the best known of these "terrible" 
photographers was Tazio Secchiaroli (see cat. nos. 404—06), 
who began his career with Adolfo Porry-Pastorel, a pioneer 
in this sort of impertinent, aggressive photography, at a 
time when the craft was considered almost insignificant, or 
at any rate subservient, to written journalism. Together 
with Elio Sorci and Sergio Spinelli (see fig. 8, cat. no. 403), 
Secchiaroli founded Rome's Press Photo Agency, which for 
a number of years was an important photo source for the 
national illustrated magazines. 

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Italian journalism 

320 Photography 

became increasingly gossipy and scandal-oriented. A 
number of unusual and almost exclusively photographic 
weeklies — among them Le ore (The hours), Settimo giorno 
(Seventh day), and Crimen (Crime) — found their place 
alongside the mass-market picture magazines — L'europeo 
(The European), Epoca (Epoch), and Oggi (Today). These 
new publications were supported by a public curious about 
scandalous events, especially when the people involved 
were the exiled royals or Hollywood movie stars who had 
moved to the banks of the Tiber in Rome and could be 
counted on for boisterous behavior in the bars and hotels of 
via Veneto. 

The likable "gang of slum photographers" who recorded 
the antics of these stars and aristocrats did not have too 
many qualms about privacy (with characteristic moralism, 
they were called "infamous"); rather, they pursued, in 
addition to money, the goal of revealing the "other" Italy. 
This was decidedly not the peasant Italy of the neorealists, 
which was disappearing and no longer of interest. Nor were 
the paparazzi concerned with the proletarian struggles in 
the South, which inspired the works of such poets as Rocco 
Scotellaro and such painters as Renato Guttuso (see cat. 
nos. 14, 15). Nonetheless, by the 1960s, despite their 
aggressive tactics and less-than-elevated subject matter, the 
paparazzi had gained legitimacy, even as artists; later, they 
would be given retrospectives and even be integrated into 
the academic history of Italian photography. But their 
newfound acceptance was not because of the aesthetic 
qualities of their photographs, which, in any case, were not 
new if one considers the unscrupulous use of the flash in 
the 1930s by Weegee [Arthur H. Fellig] in New York. 
Instead, it was because of the impertinence of their images, 
which were caricatural, harsh, and demythifying in a way 
that had never been seen before in Italy. As Arrigo 
Benedetti, grand old man of Italian journalism, observed: 
"Luckily this is a relatively peaceful country. Nevertheless, 
we must recognize that photographers are always cropping 
up where life is most dramatic. ... It is a moment in 
which the photographer, without knowing, and without 
wanting to be so, is at once artist, social critic, and satirical 

The paparazzi brought professional photographers more 
into the cultural mainstream and left a profound mark 
on the photojournalism of the period. At the same time art 
photography, influenced by the formalism of the 1940s 
"Bussola style," continued to be practiced in Italy. 
Such groups as the Venetian La Gondola (The gondola), 
under the guidance of the masterful Paolo Monti (see cat. 
nos. 441-43), formed the style of such prominent art 
photographers as Giuseppe Bruno, Del Tin, Gianni 
Berengo Gardin (see cat. nos. 396, 433, 445, 454), and 
Roiter. Roiter was the first Italian photographer to become 
involved in international publishing, working on a number 
of important photobooks with the Guilde du Livre of 

By the mid-1960s photography had begun to find other 
venues, other raisons d'etre, in the realms of advertising, 
fashion, and tourism. The peasant culture was vanishing as 
Southerners emigrated to the cities of the North and Italy 
became increasingly industrialized. Photojournalism, for 
its own part, entered a period of crisis, especially when 
television sets became a mass commodity, and television 

fig. 7. Enzo Sellerio. Three Children 
Carrying Film Reels to a Movie 
Theater. 1963. Gelatin-silver print, 
}4-S x 26. 5 cm. Collection «/ Ferruccio 
Malandrini, Florence. 

fig. 8. Sergio Spinelli's photograph 

of Tennessee Williami .nut Anna 
Magnani, Hollywood sul Tevere 
C Hollywood on the Tiber,/. io$p. 
Gelatin-silver print, $0 x 40011. 
Archivio Sergio Sp/i/c///, Roma. 

(21 //<//</ Zannier 

/ o Mulas, Verifica n. 
Autoritratto con Nini 
(Verification 13. Self-portrait with 
Nini,), ca. it 1 -72. Gelatin-silver 
print, dimensions unknown. Archivio 
l Mulcts, Milan. 

w Mimmo Jodice, Vesuvio 
(Vesuvius.), ca i')~i. Gelatin-silver 
print, jo v 40 hi/. Archivio Mimmo 
Jodice, Naplt r, 

replaced print mediums as the medium of information. The 
photographer seemed to become less necessary to the 
newspapers, which reduced both the format and numbers 
of photographs published. Meanwhile the heroic myth of 
the photojournalist began slowly to fade, though it had 
been greatly embraced by the young, who were attracted 
by the exotic romanticism of such international figures as 
Werner Bischof and Robert Capa, both of whom died in 
1954 (Capa was killed while covering the war in Indochina), 
or Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini, who was in Budapest during the 
1956 Hungarian uprising with De Biasi, the "crazy Italian," 
as he was called, who was the first Western photojournalist 
to have crossed the Iron Curtain laden with dramatic rolls 
of film. 

But it was not just the industrialization of Italy or the 
transformation of the mass media that led to the shift in 
photographic practice. Equally important was the 
cosmopolitanism of Italian culture in general, which by the 
mid-1960s had become integrated into international 
trends. In film there emerged, even before the French New 
Wave of Alain Resnais and others, such groundbreakers as 
Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, and Roberto 
Rossellini, who displayed an imagination liberated from 
the ideological constraints of neorealism. At the same time 
the fantastic fictions of Italo Calvino were pointing to a 
new path in literature. Hailed by the intellectuals of 
Gruppo 63 as a revolution, Calvino's work effaced, almost 
in a single stroke, an entire epoch that had had the great 
realist Cesare Pavese as its main literary reference point. 
The painters, in turn, forgot the myth of political realism, 
going to the point of renouncing painting itself in favor of 
a linguistic experimentation that was "conceptual," as they 
called it, taking as its aesthetic vocabulary gestures, "poor" 
signs (as in Arte Povera), and minimal images, including 
photographs, or shreds thereof. 

This new and fruitful integration of painting and 
photography signaled the end of a cycle in the history of 
photography and the initiation of a free investigation of the 
medium that is ongoing in Italy today. Artists such as 
Giulio Paolini (see cat. nos. 181-83, 22 °> 22I )> Luca Patella, 
Emilio Prini, and Franco Vaccari neglected the traditional 
aesthetic specificity of the medium, exploiting instead the 
possibilities of using it as an ambiguously "objective" 
language. For his part, Ugo Mulas, a proponent of 
"straight" photography (he had once been a 
photojournalist), launched a series of examinations of the 
very identity of the medium (see fig. 9, cat. nos. 392-94, 
457, 458). Mulas was much affected by the photographs of 
such American colleagues as Robert Frank, Lee 
Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand, as well as the 
photowork of the Pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and 
Andy Warhol. He also visited the grand old man Marcel 
Duchamp, that perennial rule-breaker, in New York during 
the shooting for Mulas's important book on the art of those 
years, a volume of photographs entitled New York, arte e 
persone (New York, arts and people, 1967; published in 
English as New York: The New Art Scene). In 1967 Lanfranco 
Colombo, an enthusiastic promoter of international 
photography, opened II Diaframma in Milan. The first 
photography gallery in Europe, it is still in existence. 

It was at this time that Italy saw the development of a 
widespread protest movement (of students and intellectuals 

j 22 Photography 

more than the working class) that sought to demythify the 
entire postwar era, with its rampant consumerism and the 
continuing decline of traditional peasant culture. The 
revolution launched by the younger generation had 
profound cultural implications, despite its anarchic aspects 
and connections with political terrorism. So, in the realm 
of photography, the image was rejected as structured by 
conventions considered academic and therefore threadbare. 
Noteworthy among the new photographers were Lisetta 
Carmi, who explored the world of Florentine transvestites 
with a previously unknown precocity; Mario Carrieri (see 
cat. nos. 450, 451), who published a bitter volume of photos 
of Milan in the provocative style of William Klein; and 
Carla Cerati (see cat. nos. 467—69), who observed Milanese 
high society with an ironic gaze, while also recording the 
first urban battles. As Luigi Carluccio, a critic with a keen 
interest in photography who lived through the turbulent 
period of the 1960s, would write a few years later: "The 
fundamental fascination of the photographic image is in its 
effective ability to reproduce the mystery of life."' 

For Mulas, as for many others, 1968 signaled the end of 
one era and the beginning of another: "Protest — the police 
pummeling painters — [took] on an indicative meaning, 
that of an end" (see cat. nos. 470, 471). ,s At that point the 
consciousness of a need to reflect "on photography" (as did 
Susan Sontag) became particularly keen, with such artists 
as Mario Cresci, Guido Guidi, and Mimmo Jodice on the 
front lines. In his photowork Cresci sought the 
interdisciplinary connections between graphics and design. 
Guidi, rather than dwell on metalinguistic 
experimentation (like Mulas and others), devoted himself 
to revealing a landscape, even a human one, rendered 
grotesque by his transgression of "straight" photography 
(see cat. nos. 459—64). Using the snapshot, he demystified 
composition — perspective and "the pose" — the beautiful 
image that had so characterized such photography as the 
images of Ansel Adams, Cartier-Bresson, or Edward 
Weston. For his part, Jodice revisited neo-Dada modes: 
photomontage and technical strategies for decomposing 
the image (see fig. 10, cat. nos. 455, 456). The main 
reference points in these diverse photographic trends, 
which are active in Italian photography even today, are 
Evans, Frank, and Friedlander — that is, a straightforward, 
direct photograpy that follows in the footsteps of Alfred 
Stieglitz. Yet it is a photography, for example, that Guidi, 
in a curve that leads back to neorealism, has set on a path 
of personal intimacy culturally befitting his own 
"provincial" reality. This ultimately is an Italian reality- 
one that is presented, as Giacomelli has presented it, out of 
a poetic demand. 

1. Fotografia: Prima rassegna dell'attivita fotografica m Italia (Milan: 
Gruppo Editoriale Domus, 1943), p. *■ 

2. /../ fotografia artistica was also published in a French edition. 

3. Mario Bellavista, "Evoluzione 1I1 un 'arte,'" in Annuario nazionale 
lulu no di fotografia artistica (National Italian yearbook <>t artistic 
photography. Turin: US1AK 1939), p. s. 

4. Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Fotodinamismo futurista (Futurist 
photodynamism. Rome: Nalato, 1912), p. 52. 

5. Antonio Boggeri, "Commento a 'La photographie est a< tuelle' di 
C. De Santeul," in Luci ed ombre: annuario della fotografia artistica 
italiana, 11 corriert fotografico (Lights and shadows: yearbook ol Italian 
artistic photography, the photographic courier. Turin: Corriere 
Fotografico, 1929), p. 14. 

6. Gio Ponti, "Discorso sull'arte fotografi< a," Domus, no. 5 (May 1932 1, 
p. 8. 

7. Federico Patellani, "11 giornalista nuova formula."' in Poty ■ 
p. 134. 

8. Alex Franchini Stappo and Giuseppe Vannucc 1 Zauli, Introduzioni 
per un'estetica fotografica (Introduction tor a photographic aesthetic. 
Florence: Cionini, 1943), p. 56. 

9. Fotografia, p. 7. 

10. Giuseppe Turroni, Nuova fotografia italiana (New Italian 
photography. Milan: Schwarz, 1959), p. 15. 

11. Leo Longanesi, // mondo cht cambia (The changing world. Milan: 
Longanesi Editore, 1949), p. 8. 

12. Antonio Arcari, "Significato di una scelta." in La famiglia italiana 
in 100 anni di fotografia (The Italian family in 100 years of photography. 
Bergamo: CIFE-I1 Libro Fotografico, 1968), p. 5. 

13. Franco Russoli, "Introduzione," in Fotografi italiane (Italian 
photographers. Milan: Antonio Salto, 1953), p. vii. 

14. The manifesto of La Bussola, in Ferrania, Milan, 1 (May 1947), 
p. v 

15. Turroni, p. 24. 

16. Arrigo Benedetti, in Vincenzo Carrese, Un album di fotografie: 
racconti (An album ol photographs: stories. Milan: 11 Diaframma, 
1970), p. x. 

17. Luigi Carluccio, "Note per un'introduzione," in Luigi Carluccio and 
Daniela Palazzoli, eds., Combattimento per un immagine: fotografi <. pittori 
(Battle for an image: photographers and painters. Turin: Amici 
dell'Arte Contemporanea Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna. 1977), p. v 

18. Ugo Mulas, La fotografia (Photography. Turin: Einaudi, 1973), p. 30. 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

\i\ Italo Zannier 

"Paparazzi on the Prowl": 
Representations of Italy 
circa 1960 

Jennifer Blessing 

With regard to many of these photographs, it was History which 
separated me from them. Is History not simply that time when 
we were not born? . . . Thus the life of someone whose existence 
has somewhat preceded our own encloses in its particularity 
the very tension of History, its division. History is hysterical: 
it is constituted only if we consider it, only if we look at it — 
and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it. As a 
living soul, I am the very contrary of History, I am what belies 
it, destroys it for the sake of my own history. . . . That is what 
the time when my mother was alive before me is — History 
(moreover, it is the period which interests me most, historically). 
— Roland Barthes' 

Living in New York, it is impossible not to know Ruth 
Orkin's 1951 photograph American Girl in Italy (fig. 1), in 
which a hip young woman runs a gauntlet of ogling men 
on an Italian city street. For years, it hung in the old 
Rizzoli bookstore on Fifth Avenue, but you do not have to 
be a bibliophile to see it: every neighborhood Italian 
restaurant or pizzeria seems to have a print or poster, and 
postcards of the image abound in stores that appeal to 

I do not recall when I first saw that photo, just that it 
annoyed me. I presumed it was supposed to be amusing, 
and that it should elicit some nostalgic yearning for an 
Italian vacation — why else should it be found in businesses 
that were linked to Italy? Yet I could not but identify with 
the woman in the picture who, with downcast eyes and a 
pained expression of trepidation, mechanically continues 
down the street, trying to ignore the unwanted attention. 
Years later, I was bothered by the apparent slur on Italian 
men, who look like imbeciles with their silly eager faces 
and leering eyes. Obviously, this photo represents a 
canonical stereotype of Italianness, seemingly both for 
Americans and Italians — but why? The search for an 
explanation of the conundrum that Orkin's photo embodies 
is, on some level, what motivates this text. 

The locus or case study for this research is the work of a 
group of Italian photographers called paparazzi. In i960 
these pesky freelance photojournalists were immortalized 
in Federico Fellini's internationally popular film La dolce 
vita (The sweet life; released in English as La Dolce Vita) 
(fig. 2). After the movie's release, the word "paparazzi" 
came to be used to describe these photographers, 
suggesting that there was something new and 
untranslatable, something specifically Italian, about these 
men and the images they made. An analysis of the 
photographs in terms of the intentions of their makers, the 
participation of their subjects, and the response of their 
viewers indicates the way Italians perceived themselves, 
how they perceived Americans, and, through the 
international distribution of these images, the way 
Americans saw Italy circa i960. 

In order to compete with the growing popularity of 
television, Hollywood in the mid-1950s began to produce 
epic dramas in foreign lands, dazzling their audiences with 
colorful spectacles that exploded on the new oversize 
CinemaScope and VistaVision screens. Italy, through 
Cinecitta, offered experienced personnel at lower wages and 
perfect locations for historical epics like William Wyler's 
Ben Hur (1959). Since the Italian profits of American 
companies could not leave the country, the United States 
filmmakers were forced to reinvest, and their stars were 
happy to use the tax advantages of working abroad. With 
the influx of American movie people, Rome became known 
as "Hollywood on the Tiber," and as the airlines enabled 
easier cross-Atlantic travel, the city turned into a 
playground for the so-called "jet set," whose nocturnal 
amusements centered on the cafes and nightclubs on and 
around via Veneto, the only illuminated part of an 
otherwise rather provincial city (see fig. 3)/ 

A group of photojournalists staked out "the beach," as 
via Veneto was known to Americans at that time, waiting 
to get a shot of some action they could sell to the print 

324 Photography 

media. Certainly newshound press photographers had been 
around for decades at this point (though they were 
censored in Italy during the Fascist period), yet this 
particular group of photographers made an art of getting 
their celebrity (or celebrity-wannabee) subjects to act out or 
react for the camera. Although some of their most 
important photographs were surreptitious shots of Italian 
politicians and aristocrats caught in scandalous 
circumstances, the international reputation of the 
paparazzi was built on the record of their confrontational 
encounters with show-business personalities. Their 
canonical images involve those perennial commodities — 
sex (a drunken starlet en dishabille, dancing in the street) 
and the aroma of violence (the minor male actor attacking 
the photographer [see figs. 4, 5]). They are frequently shot 
at night, with a flash, and often the subject is moving, 
resulting in a photograph that catches a minutely 
abbreviated action and flattens it against the black 
background of the night, giving the image a caricatural 

By all accounts, the heyday of these Roman photo- 
reporters was 1958. A watershed event occurred that year 
during the August weekend of the Ferragosto holiday, when 
the photographer Tazio Secchiaroli scored a hat trick. In 
one night he managed to elicit the ire of the exiled 
playboy-king Farouk of Egypt; Anita Ekberg's husband, 
the actor Anthony Steel, tried to beat him up; and he 
caught Ava Gardner and Tony Franciosa, costars shooting 
Henry Koster's The Naked Maja (1959), fighting in the 
street.' Fellini apparently witnessed the Farouk 
confrontation, and shortly thereafter, he started hanging 
out with the photographers, learning their trade as part of 
the research for his next movie. 

The director had been a provincial kid who came to 
Rome and was both awed and alienated by what he 
perceived as the sophistication of the city. He barely 
subsisted on the money he made drawing caricatures of 
tourists and pirating American comics. Perhaps he was 
drawn to the caricatural quality of the photojournalists' 
images, which, like the sketches Fellini drew throughout 
his life, emphasize grotesque exaggeration for comic effect. 
In any event, his next film, La dolce vita, focused on the life 
of a jaded journalist, Marcello (played by Marcello 
Mastroianni), and his photographer colleague, Paparazzo 
(Walter Santesso), a character modeled on Secchiaroli. The 
origin of the name Paparazzo is disputed, but its 
onomatopoeic resemblance to the Sicilian word for an 
oversize mosquito, papataceo, seems apt in light of Fellini's 
statement, "Paparazzo suggests to me a buzzing insect, 
hovering, darting, stinging." His drawing of the character 
(fig. 6), in which the photographer swoops over his prey in 
a fluid, seemingly airborn arabesque, unhampered by the 
mechanical limitations of human bone structure, suggests a 
rather vampirish insectile quality, and implies that 
paparazzi, like mosquitoes, are also parassiti. 

La dolce vita reenacts various scandals and haute bourgeois 
escapades reported in newspapers and shot by the 
paparazzi in the late 1950s. Fellini claimed that he was 
putting newspapers and weeklies on film, and many of the 
vignettes that make up the movie refer directly to news 
stories.'' For example, the opening shot of a statue being 

fig. 1. Ruth Orkin, American Curl in 
Italy, igsi. Gelatin-silver print, 
20.5 x 2^.4 cm. /:'i/.// t oj Ruth Orkin. 
© 19S2. 1980 Ruth Orkin. • 

fig. 2. Paparazzi in a teem from 
Federico Fellini's La dolce vita, i960 

fig. 1 Sergio \/'t)ii//i. Orson Welles 
acquista giornali .1 \ ia V< neto 
K)rson Welles Buys Newspap< rs on 
via Veneto), 19 $8, printed 199}. 
Gelatin-silm r print, i<< r x 
Collection of the ./rt:<: R 

Jennifer />/> • 

fig. 4. Elio Son/. Walter Chiari and 
Tazio Secchiaroli, 1958. Gelatin-silver 
print. Agenzia Masi, Milan. 

fig. s- kirn Sum. Walter Chiari and 
Tazio Secchiaroli, 1958. Gelatin-silver 
print. Agen ia \iasi, Milan. 

transported by helicopter over Rome recalled an event that 
took place in 1950; the film's "miracle" at Terni, in which 
some children claim to see the Virgin, developed from a 
Terni boy's story, which Secchiaroli scooped; and the 
character of Steiner, who murders his children and 
commits suicide, was based on a French news item Fellini 
had read. 

Stills from Let dolce vita often look like paparazzi photos. 
At times, in fact, it is difficult to tell them apart, which 
underlines Fellini's success at capturing the essence of the 
photographers' work, while indicating the director's desire 
to blend art and life in a kind of Pirandellian continuum. 
The images of Ekberg are a case in point. Pierluigi 
Praturlon's 1957 photograph of the actress dipping her feet 
into the Trevi Fountain, a canonical paparazzi image, was 
internationally syndicated and inspired the famed 
synonymous scene in La dolce vita (fig. 7)." Fellini made a 
practice of hiring paparazzi to shoot on the set, for 
publicity purposes, and so Praturlon came to photograph 
the cinematic reenactment of the event he had originally 
recorded. 1 * Fellini's film complicates Susan Sontag's dictum 
that "the photographed world stands in the same, 
essentially inaccurate relation to the real world as stills do 
to movies." " By reanimating paparazzi photographs, which 
originally focused on freezing frenzied movement, the 
equation is reversed. Secchiaroli has said that his challenge 
was to capture action (as opposed to shooting fixed subjects 
like those of Weegee, for example), and Fellini preferred 
the medium of film "because it re-creates life in 
movement."" 3 In La dolce vita, the director appears to have 
re-created the fixed photographs of movement as life on 
film." Like Pirandello's characters in search of an author, 
the paparazzi-inspired media events Fellini found begged 
for a story. 

Fellini further confounded the art/life (or fantasy/reality) 
dialectic in La dolce vita by hiring as actors the minor 
celebrities and social figures who were the actual objects of 
the Roman paparazzi. Not only was Ekberg the subject of 
the famous Trevi Fountain scoop, but her husband 
Anthony Steel was the protagonist of the notorious 
Ferragosto series of photos in which he chased Secchiaroli. 
Thus the film scene in which the Ekberg character's 
drunken husband beats up Marcello refers rather explicitly 
to her real husband's antics." This kind of "realism" is 
exactly the opposite of neorealist practice, in which the 
story, locations, and actors reflect the lived experience of 
economically disadvantaged protagonists. In La dolce vita, 
in fact, the re-enactment of actual events and the 
employment of non-actors engenders an intense feeling of 
artificiality. The simulation becomes real, while real events 
seem artificial. 

There is a surrealistic flavor to the publicity stills from 
Fellini's films. Frequently he could be found on the set 
among the actors, giving instructions, as in the famous 
shot, taken during the filming oi Otto e mezzo (1963; released 
in English as 8'h), of the director cracking a whip as 
Mastroianni looks on. It is as if Fellini had crossed over and 
entered the film; like the young wife in Lo sceicco bianco 
(The White Sheik, 1951), who is swept into the production of 
the romantic photographic comic strip she fantasizes 
about, he breaks the fiction's membrane and joins his 
characters. In some ways, the technique of the paparazzi 

326 Photography 

resembles that of the director, in that the photographer 
often orchestrated his picture and became a part of it, 
rather than passively happening upon a scene to record. 

In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes notes that "a 
photograph can be the object of three practices (or of three 
emotions, or of three intentions): to do, to undergo, to 
look." ,! The subjects of these verbs are the photographer, 
the thing photographed, and the viewer, respectively- 
Meaning that devolves from, or is interpreted as residing 
in, a photographic representation is intermingled in these 
three practices. In traditional art-historical analysis, the 
first term, that of the creator, is privileged: the genius of 
the painter or sculptor solely determines the image he (this 
tradition usually presumes male genius) constructs. The 
artist inscribes meaning into his work without the 
significant intervention of the other practices cited by 
Barthes. This conception of the heroic creator was not 
readily applied to the photographer because the camera's 
mimetic capability argued for the objectivity associated 
with technology and thus, conversely, the photographer's 
reduced ability to leave his distinct personal mark on the 
image captured by the machine. The use of photography in 
scientific investigation and journalistic documentation 
continues to cloud its status as an art form. Instead, the 
photographer is categorized as a species of scientist; in 
Barthesian terms, that which undergoes is more significant 
than he who does (a photographer "takes" rather than 
"makes" a picture). The paparazzi, unwittingly perhaps, 
blasted assumptions about the scientific objectivity of the 
medium by transgressing the imagined boundary between 
the photographer/observer and the subject of his images. 
They do not fit the model of the passive scientific recorder, 
nor that of the solitary artistic genius unaffected by his 
subject. Like Fellini, they have crossed over into the world 
of their images, implicating themselves in their pictures.' 4 

The paparazzi actively created the scenes they shot, 
recording their subject's response to the fact of their 
possession of a camera. If nothing exciting enough to sell 
was happening that day, they baited drunken actors in 
order to capture their ire on film, they posed pictures to 
look as if they had occurred spontaneously, and they were 
not above puncturing a tire to generate some action. 
Certainly their subjects were willing participants in the 
process: minor actors gave them their evening's itinerary so 
that they would be photographed in the company of more 
famous celebrities, hoping their stock would rise by 
association; and all manner of starlets would perform an 
"improptu" dance or sanitized striptease for the camera. 
Paparazzi photos usually include other photographers, 
often being chased or threatened by their prey. Or the 
entire shot will be filled with paparazzi and their 
prominent cameras and unwieldy flashes, emphasizing that 
the true subject of the picture is less the celebrity than the 
celebrity being pursued by hordes of photographers. The 
photographers themselves — their existence and their 
actions — are the manifest subject; without them, by 
definition, the image would not exist. 

J -'' 


fig. 6. Federico Fellini'i drawing oj 
Paparazzo, ./ character m />/\ film 
La dolce vita. i960. 

fig. 7. Anita Ekber± in Fedt 
Fellini'i La dolce vita. i960. 

When La dolce vita was released, a few critics argued that 
Fellini wanted to show the decadent flipside of the 
American luxury life-style promoted in postwar Italy 
through the Marshall Plan and its reconstruction 

}27 Jennifer />'/. 1 

fig. 8. Nadia Gray in Federico Fellini's 
La dolce vita. i960. 

fig. 9. Tazio Secchiaroli, II Rugantino, 

1958. printed 1995. Gelatin-silver print, 
$9. y x jo. s cm. Collection »/ the artist, 
Romt . 

initiatives.'" Perhaps, concomitantly, the paparazzi, whose 
caricatural images are arguably critical of the inanities of 
their subjects, could be said to share this motivation. 1 If 
this is the case, then, like so many moralists, Fellini and 
the paparazzi are a little too enamored of their salacious 
nemeses. The debaucheries of La dolce vita conclude with a 
beach-house party in which a new divorcee performs a 
striptease in celebration of her liberation (fig. 8). This 
rather tedious gathering was meant to be seen as an orgy, 
since burlesque was illegal in Italy (as was divorce), though 
both were available abroad and, as such, could be perceived 
as imports, possibly "Made in America." Once again, this 
film scene was based on a canonical paparazzi scoop, a 
series of Secchiaroli photographs of a striptease performed 
at a high-society party, which had been hosted by an 
American millionaire in a Trastevere restaurant called II 
Rugantino (fig. 9, cat. nos. 404-06). The images of 
socialites absorbed by the stripper created a huge scandal, 
and the police tried to confiscate the negatives." 

Striptease itself certainly had American associations for 
Europeans: it was developed in the American burlesque 
theater, and often the word was not translated from 
English, reiterating its non-European roots."' If the 
inclusion of a striptease in La dolce vita was an oblique 
reference to the infiltration of American customs into 
Italian society, Ekberg's character in the film was an 
obvious and undeniable portrait of that trademark 
Hollywood export, the buxom, platinum-blond sex 
goddess/ In the film, Ekberg seems larger than life; she is 
the European stereotype of the hypertrophied American 
woman, monumentalized/' "Bombshells" like Ekberg, 
Linda Christian, Jayne Mansfield, and Kim Novak were the 
stock-in-trade of the paparazzi, and aspiring starlets of this 
variety flocked to Rome in the late 1950s, where they 
satisfied a publicity-market niche. 

The international dissemination of paparazzi photographs, 
and especially Italian films, gave Americans the 
opportunity to see postwar Italy. Although portraits of 
Americans in Italy were often available in these 
representations, American viewers usually seemed less 
willing or able to recognize themselves, and more 
interested in the quaintness of a foreign land and people. 
American criticism of La dolce vita upon its 1961 United 
States release emphasizes Fellini's moralism, typically not 
reading references to its American implications, but 
centering instead on the decadence of the ancient city of 
Rome. Life magazine carried a picture spread of stills from 
the film, with a sizable doublespread of the stripping 
divorcee from the orgy finale, under the heading, "Angry 
Cry against a Sinful City.' :: 

The incorporation of the word paparazzi into the 
English language is inextricably tied to the popular 
reception of Fellini's film. In 1961, shortly before the release 
of the movie, which had been anticipated from the time of 
its controversial opening in Italy the year before, Time 
magazine introduced the Italian word to the American 
public in an article entitled "Paparazzi on the Prowl." 
Below a paparazzi image of a throng of photographers 
blocking the car of a princess visiting Rome, the text 
describes the newshounds as "a ravenous wolf pack of 
freelance photographers who stalk big names for a living 

328 Photography 

and fire with flash guns at pointblank range." The article 
lists the American stars who are taunted by the "bullyboys" 
who sell their photos to the Italian press. Clearly, paparazzo 
was a derogatory term: "Legitimate news photographers," 
the text discloses, "scorn the paparazzi as streetwalkers of 
Roman journalism." :j 

Two points are implicit in this and other United States 
reports about paparazzi. First, the inference is that this 
type of photojournalism is new. Certainly other 
photographers received payment for their prints, so the 
commercial interest of these photographers was hardly 
indictable, "'ret the Time reference suggests the unique 
crassness of the paparazzi, that they were not known for 
the quality of their images but rather for the rarity of their 
subjects, which they not only captured through a tenacious 
pursuit of their prey but which they actually 
manufactured. And second, the persistence of the word 
paparazzi (instead of "freelance photographer" or "press 
photographer") suggests that foreigners had invented this 
debased form of journalism; it could thus be inferred that 
Americans were above such a practice. Up until this time, 
in the American moral universe as represented on film, an 
ambitious reporter of questionable ethics might pursue his 
target with relentless and deceitful ingenuity, but, in the 
end, these characters would do the right thing when their 
healthy ethical sensibility was awakened. Just such a story 
is William Wyler's Roman Holiday (1953), a film in which 
Gregory Peck plays a down-and-out expatriate reporter 
who proves himself the consummate gentleman by not 
revealing princess Audrey Hepburn's nocturnal escapades." 
Mastroianni's character in La dolce vita is the Peck 
character's evil twin, the (more realistic?) obverse of the 
mythological Wyler creation. 

The definitive paparazzi image, like the print published 
by Time, shows a woman surrounded by a gaggle of male 
photographers. Variations on this theme abound. In 1962 
Fellini published a personal essay in an Italian weekly 
about the genesis of La dolce vita, which was profusely 
illustrated with paparazzi photos. The next year, Esquire 
printed a translation of the text, accompanied by a 
photospread somewhat different from the Italian version/ 6 
As could be expected, the articles' illustrations summarize 
paparazzi style. Along with the famous Steel and Chiari 
fistfights are numerous spectacles of female sexuality: an 
Italian actress doing the cancan for the camera; an 
American aspiring starlet with a hula hoop; an American 
dancer performing on the street; and, of course, Ekberg, are 
all included. One caption reads, "Jayne Mansfield 
unbuckles armor in near-strip." In several images, the 
woman is surrounded by leering men or by craning 
photographers with their cameras. The repetition of this 
image underlines the hunting metaphors associated with 
photography in general and paparazzi in particular. In this 
case, the woman is the prey, whose capture the photo- 
reporter seeks. While the photographer is the model of the 
masculine hunter extraordinaire, the female subject is 
conceived in animalistic terms, nowhere more obviously 
than in Fellini's portrayal of Ekberg as a trophy whose 
bestial behavior — she runs barefoot through the city 
streets, makes a companion of a kitten, and actually bays at 
the moon — heightens her sexual appeal. 

Many paparazzi photographs express, on some level, a 

notion of a particularly American kind of feminine sexual 
absorption and flamboyance, which indicates Hollywood- 
inspired Italian stereotypes about Americans. Americans, 
meanwhile, were equally involved in projecting an 
analogously sexual national identity for Italians. The 
preponderance of paparazzi photos of women surrounded 
by leering men recall the Orkin topos, despite the typical 
seductively smiling faces in the photo-reporters' shots, 
which counter the Orkin model's expression of shame. 

Orkin's photo, originally part of a series of posed images 
suggesting the activities of a young female tourist in Italy, 
was first printed in a Cosmopolitan article with the caption: 

Public admiration in Florence shouldn't fluster you. Ogling the 
ladies is a popular, harmless, and flattering pastime you'll run 
into in many foreign countries. The gentlemen are usually louder 
and more demonstrative than American men, but they mean no 


This leitmotiv of intercultural scopophilia — the leering 
Italian man who inspects the demure, guileless tourist- 
recurs frequently in American journalistic accounts of Italy 
in the 1950s and 1960s.' Although the image suggests 
notions of guilt and shame not so close to the surface in the 
paparazzi photos, they are nevertheless linked. The trope 
of gazing male/gazed-upon female, whether imbued with 
suggestions of imposed shame, complicit delight, or both, 
was prolifically produced by both Americans and Italians, 
proclaiming a uniquely Italian delight in the specular. 

Mario De Biasi, in his 1953 photograph Gli italiani si 
voltano (The Italians Turn Around), participated in the 
construction of this formula (fig. 10). Images like his and 
Orkin's offer a shorthand way to convey Italianness, an 
Italianness wound in sexual tension. In 1964 the American- 
educated Milanese critic Luigi Barzini published The 
Italians, a wide-ranging analysis of the country's culture 
and norms grounded in several centuries' worth of history 
and literature.' In a review of Barzini's best-selling book, 
which narrowly focused on a picturesque history of 
foreigners' attraction to Italians, Time reused Orkin's 
thirteen-year-old photo with the enigmatic caption "Italian 
Street Scene, Deceptions can be disastrous."' 1 A Newsweek 
review carried a photograph by Nicola Sansone of the 
author ogling some young women with the caption 
"Barzini in Rome: The ecstasy and the anguish." 

These representations are symptomatic of the American 
delight in conceiving of the sensual Italian Other. Models 
of excess in this vein are Paul Schutzer's 1963 L//t photo- 
essay, "The Italian Man," which is a rhapsody of bulging 
muscles and overblown prose: 

The Italian man is the most natural of men. . . . As bis 
country — and his spirits — revived, tin world has becomt better 
acquainted and even fascinated with his engaging qualities, I • 
his candid enthusiasm and sensuality ban Inlpid till tin world 
with music and art. laughter and low and a particular kirn 
triumphant masculinity. ...//< has an explicit and unc 
delight in himself and in his world and teems lost m 
admiration fur both. In fad. hi teems completely unabh tod 
which is more wonderful tht world or himself 

During this period, a scries of Italian a< tors ( Rossano 
329 Jennifer BU^my, 

fig. 111. Mario Dt Bias:, Gli icaliaru si 
volcano (The Italians Turn Around I, 
/<?5,'. Gelatin-silver print, }0.f x 40 cm. 
Collection oj tht artist, Milan. 

Brazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Sofia Loren, Gina 
Lollobrigida) became international movie stars and sex 
symbols beloved in the United States. A favorite fantasy 
movie theme of the period was the story of an American 
woman's trip to Italy, where she finds love in the arms of an 
Italian stranger. Examples include David Lean's Summertime 
(1955), with Brazzi and Katharine Hepburn; Jose Quintero's 
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), in which Warren 
Beatty, with a preposterous Italian accent, plays a gigolo; 
and Delmer Daves's Rome Adventure (1962), in which Brazzi 
appears as a school teacher's romantic interest. A Reader's 
Digest excerpt from Letitia Baldridge's memoir of her 
sojourn as social secretary to Ambassador Clare Boothe 
Luce, Roman Candle, reads like a trailer to one of these 

Nowhere is a girl made to feel so desirable, so sought after, so 
conscious of her sex as in Italy. . . . This awareness, one sex of 
the other, pervades the whole day. . . . At my garage I find 
Ed/iardo — six feet three of bronzed muscle, topped with a 
Praxiteles head and black curls, and with chestnut eyes that 
could melt an iceberg. . . . It's this wonderful tensione between 
the sexes that is an important part of the charm of living in 
Italy. There is no other country where a "he" feels more like a 
"he" and a "she" feels more like a "she" — and terribly glad of 

Baldridge's reverie highlights the sexual crucible in which 
American-Italian stereotypes were formed. The Italian is 
the fantasy fulfillment of sexual desire, possessing unique 
access to a world of sensual fulfillment. In order to 
construct such a privileged Other, the self must be posed 
as the opposite: thus, in her text, Baldridge distinguishes 
Latin characteristics from Anglo-Saxon ones. An identity 
trait can only exist in juxtaposition to another trait; in 
other words, the trait of thriftiness can only exist if 
someone else is spendthrift. The theoretical underpinning 
of this assertion can be found in Saussure's linguistic 
analysis, or simply extrapolated from the old biblical 
exegesis that evil exists only as a way to define good. 

Of course, stereotypical presumptions were also 
registered in the other direction, with Italians perpetuating 
myths about Americans, and subsequently taking the 
moral high road for themselves. Fellini, whose film La dolce 
vita can be read as an indictment of the life it portrays, 
frequently recounted stories about Americans' enthusiastic 
response to the film, perhaps implying that the Americans 
were unable to understand the film's critique, since they 
themselves unwittingly espoused the decadence portrayed." 
Certainly paparazzi photos, because of their subject matter 
and the nature of photography itself, propagated the 
dynamic of American-Italian sexual cliches. Sontag could 
have been summarizing the operation of paparazzi images 
when she wrote, "But essentially the camera makes 
everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually 
in one's own."'" 

Paparazzi photos should not be judged by traditional 
aesthetic criteria. They operate as social documents, and as 
such are more productively read as performance 
documentation than as static masterpieces intended for 
exhibition. Their mode of dissemination, through 

330 Photograph] 

magazines and newspapers, is central to their existence, 
and framed prints can only recall their primary role. They 
were intended to serve not an elite but a mass audience, 
and to give this audience the sensation of access to a world 
beyond its own. Stylistically, through their occasionally 
haphazard framing and frequently unflattering poses, they 
suggest the family snapshot, and the embarassing moments 
of Candid Camera ', when any average Joe might find a few 
minutes in the limelight through personal humiliation. 

Like a family portrait in which nasty cousin Billy jumps 
in at the last second and makes the sign of devil's horns 
behind Aunt Susie's head, the paparazzi represent a 
familiar juvenile impulse to wreck the picture, to make a 
fool of someone else, and to become, finally, the privileged 
subject of the photo. In Fellini's Oscar-winning film 
Le notti di Cabiria (1956; released as The Nights ofCabiria 
and later as Cabiria), the eponymous prostitute expresses a 
comparable desire to document herself at center stage 
when she asks the film star who has unexpectedly asked 
her to his home to inscribe a publicity still to her, so that 
she will be able to prove that she had been there. r 
Nevertheless, Cabiria's associates do not believe her; only a 
photograph showing her with the star would have 
presented incontrovertible proof. 

Because paparazzi photos were circulated through the 
press, any reader could, in essence, own the picture through 
possession of the magazine or newspaper in which it was 
printed. Unlike film, or television, whose fleeting images 
constantly frustrate the desire to linger over them, the 
photograph invites leisurely perusal. There is a fetishistic 
component to the pleasure of "owning" the picture in a 
magazine, which the paparazzi photo shares with 
pornography. Significantly, pornographic magazines began 
to be widely disseminated in roughly the same period as 
the rise of paparazzi journalism, with which it shares a 
number of characteristics/" The frequently risque sexual 
subject matter of paparazzi photos obviously overlaps with 
that of porn magazines, as does their fetishistic mode of 
commodity consumption. 1 ' And both pornography and 
paparazzi photos privilege images in which the subject 
directly addresses the viewer, by looking at the 
photographer, thereby destroying the image's fictional 
narrative. This mode of direct address has been identified 
by film theorists as a characteristic of pornographic cinema, 
in which an especial exhibitionistic pleasure is derived 
from the shot of a woman gazing out at the male viewer.' 

The status of the celebrity as mythical object of desire 
makes the paparazzi's confrontational behavior both 
explicable and necessary. He expresses for his viewers their 
desire to have access to the oracle for themselves. Of course, 
the most satisfying shot is the direct, frontal one, that of 
religious icons, in which the subject looks straight at the 
camera. This yields the voyeuristic thrill Barthes yearns for 
but does not find in disaster photo-reportage, when he 
laments, "Oh, if there were only a look, a subject's look, if 
only someone in the photographs were looking at me!"" It 
does not matter if this subject is flipping you the bird or 
smiling, it is you who are addressed, with all the attendant 
pride and delight at being the object of attention.' Literary 
critic Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has noted recently that the 
roots of shame are said to lie in the child's consciousness of 
his/her mother's turning away, breaking the visual circuit 

of mirroring and acknowledgment on which the c I11KI 
thrives.' Perhaps the intensity of the desire to feel the gaze 
returned is inherited from the first moments of shame, 
relief from which occurs only with the return of attention. 

If the developmental roots of shame lie in not being 
looked at, it is interesting how shame, almost as a kind of 
compensation, comes to be- associated with being the 
object of attention. In adulthood, the desire to be Looked at 
is frequently perceived as vanity, which is often considered 
a defect for which the bearer ought to (but significantly 
does not) feel shame. Attitudes toward shame and vanity. 
like all values, vary according to the identity of the parties 
involved. Thus, Orkin's photo of the demure tourist fits 
ingrained societal expectations of "proper" feminine 
behavior. Pleasure is traditionally the domain of the viewer, 
typically the male viewer, and female pleasure is always 
suspect. Any doubts about this assumption can be resolved 
by imagining alternate scenarios: an elated, swaggering 
female tourist would immediately suggest the sexually 
provocative exhibitionism that is the province of 
performers (and the subject of paparazzi). A male tourist 
surrounded by leering Italian women taxes the 
imagination. 4 ' 

If, in constructing identity stereotypes, the party who 
sets the terms of the construction can be expected to 
assimilate superior attributes to itself; and if it is believed 
that it is morally superior to feel shame and, conversely, 
morally inferior to be vain; then, naturally, shame will 
reside in the determining party and vanity will be the 
province of its Other. For example, the Orkin model's 
downcast eyes connote her embarrassment and fit 
American expectations of suitable feminine deportment, 
whereas the "shameless" starlets captured by the paparazzi 
probably conform to Italian expectations of Americans. 
Here, both Italian and American ideals of femininity are 
shared; they diverge in terms of who is perceived as 
possessing them. Such does not obtain in the case of 
masculine behavior, where shame is not considered a 
morally superior attribute for any man, though attitudes 
toward vanity arguably differ. Thus the exhibitionistic 
Italian man portrayed in Schutzer's Life photospread 
receives a backhanded compliment — he is, in implicit 
contrast to the American male, seen as vain." Endless 
examples like this one exist, each informed by intiniteh 
complex nuances of cultural, sexual, and racial 
presumption, to name just three factors. Picking them 
apart analytically to expose their myriad determining 
threads yields a panoply of local variations. 

A 1988 exhibition catalogue entitled Papara 
reproduces a 1958 series of brothel photographs In Who 
Cioni that recall Brassai's grainy images of thirtj years 
earlier. In each of the pictures, the eyes of the casa di 
tolleranza patrons have been obscured in the most 
rudimentary way. by scratching through the- shun 
emulsion coating of the print, exposing the matte white 
photographic paper underneath. This low-tech precursor oi 
video's blat k bar over tin eyes ami 1 omputer-generated 
interference shares with them a thoroughly uncom in< ing 
attempt to mask the identity of its subje( t. Suggesting 
that, m some- c in umstances, tin- ( universal }) desire to be 
seen involves not being seen seeing. 

The word paparazzi is still used to iIcm ribe a kind ol 

;;i Jennifer />/> 

intrusive multimedia celebrity journalism, despite the fact 
that its practice was developed beyond Rome's city limits 
and expanded to television long ago. The in-your-face 
confrontational style of 60 Minutes, progenitor of today's 
reality-based TV, owes something of its influential 
methodology to the paparazzi's newsmaking practice. The 
history of paparazzi photography, its influences and 
dissemination, is a significant chapter in the history-in- 
process that is the globalization of communications in the 
twentieth century. 

I would like to thank the following interns who assisted in the 
preparation of this manuscript: Maura Pozzati, Giorgio Pace, Hilda 
Werschkul, and, especially, Jennifer Miller. 

1. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. 
Richard Howard (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981), 

pp. 64-65. 

2. See Hollis Alpert, Fellini: A Life (New York: Atheneum, 1986), 
pp. 6f; and the interview with Tazio Secchiaroli in Fotologia 7 (1987), 
p. 50. 

3. See Italo Zannier, "Naked Italy," in Paparazzi: Fotografie 1953- 1964 
(Paparazzi: photographs 1953 — 1964), exhibition catalogue (Venice: 
Palazzo Fortuny/Florence: Alinari, 1988), p. 26. Professor Zannier is 
the foremost authority on paparazzi photography; see, among his 
many publications, Storia delta fotografia italiana (History of Italian 
photography. Rome: Editori Laterza, 1986). 

4. See Federica di Castro, "Tazio Secchiaroli. II reale e l'immaginario" 
(Tazio Secchiaroli. The real and the imaginary) in Uliano Lucas and 
Maurizio Bizzicari, eds., L'informazione negata: It fotogiornalismo in 
Italia 1945I1980 (Denied as information: photojournalism in Italy 
1945 — 1980), exhibition catalogue (Bari: Dedalo libri, 1981), p. m; and 
Massimo Di Forti, "Flash Warning: The Paparazzi Are Coming," in 
"Immagini Italiane" (Italian images), Aperture 132 (summer 1993), 
pp. 20-25. 

5. Federico Fellini quoted in "Paparazzi on the Prowl," Time, April 14, 
1961, p. 81. The papa taceo comparison was first made by Andrea Nemiz 
in his book Vita, dolce vita (Life, sweet life. Rome: Network Edizioni, 
1983), pp. no— 11, who notes that Fellini's screenplay collaborator, 
Ennio Flaiano, claimed that the name was that of a Calabrian 
innkeeper in George Gissing's book By the Ionian Sea. Nemiz is cited 
in Zannier, "Naked Italy," p. 11, who also offers an alternative 
explanation, that Paparazzo was the name of the owner of a hotel on 
the Ionic where Fellini had once stayed. See also Peter Bondanella, 
The Cinema of Federico Fellini, with a foreword by Federico Fellini 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 136. 

6. Eileen Lanouette Hughes, "La Dolce Vita of Federico Fellini," 
Esquire 54 (August i960), p. 75: "Properly speaking, it is not a movie in 
the conventional sense, but in [Fellini's] own words 'a newspaper or 
rotogravure' on film." ("Rotogravure" is a literal translation of 
rotocalco, signifying glossy weekly magazine.) 

7. In another borrowing from life, the evening gown that Ekberg wears 
in her cinematic nocturnal romp through Rome resembles a gown she 
wore one night in 1958, which was captured in a series of images by 
Secchiaroli, among other photographers. 

8. The photographs that Pierluigi Praturlon took on the set are often 
mistaken for film stills, intensifying the dizzying overlap between the 
film and paparazzi images. 

9. Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Anchor Books, 1990; 

1977), P- 81. 

10. Di Castro, p. 113; and "Playboy interview: Federico Fellini," Playboy 
13 (February 1966), p. 58. Fellini continues, "It's not just an art form; 
it's actually a new form of life. . . ." 

11. Sometimes the correspondence between news event and the film 
scene is less literal. For example, after the orgy finale, Marcello and his 
fellow partiers see a strange "monster" washed up on the beach. The 
long shots of the beach crowded with the curious revellers resemble 
Velio Cioni's photos of the visit of the court to the crime scene of the 
famous Montesi affair, in which a young woman was found dead on 
the beach after an all-night party. Robert Neville suggests the 
similarity in "The Soft Life in Italy," Harper's Magazine 221 (September 
i960), p. 68, noting that Fellini denied the connection in "Poet- 
Director Of the Sweet Life," The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 
1961, p. 86. 

12. It could refer as well to any number of other actors who chased the 
paparazzi, such as Walter Chiari, Ava Gardner's then-beau, who is 
seen pursuing Secchiaroli in a famous series of photos by Elio Sorci 
that were reproduced worldwide, including Esquire magazine 

(figs. 4, 5). The actor who played Ekberg 's husband in the film was Lex 
Barker, another habitue of the via Veneto scene. 

13. Barthes, $ff, who identifies the subjects of the verbs as the operator, 
the spectrum, and the spectator. 

14. For an interesting, relevant discussion, see Paolo Costantini, 
"Evidenze" (Evidence), in Paparazzi, p. 37. 

332 Photography 

15. Ibid., p. 26. 

16. See, for example, Neville, "The Soft Life in Italy," pp. 65-68. 

17. See Zannier, "Naked Italy," p. 25. 

18. The character who performed the scene in La dolce vita was called 
Nadia and was played by Nadia Gray. (The stripper at II Rugantino 
was Turkish dancer Aiche Nana.) In the script, from which Fellini 
freely diverged, a character in this scene says, "Ragazzi, adesso 
Katherine fara lo strip-tease. Un applauso per Katherine!" (Kids, now 
Katherine will do a striptease. A round of applause for Katherine!). 
From Federico Fellini, La dolce vita (Milan: Garzanti Editore, 1981), 
p. 143. Just as "real life" events suggested the film scene, the movie 
spawned imitators, such as aspiring American actress Nadia Par's 
improvised strip, which was photographed by paparazzo Marcello 

19. There was an international revival in the popularity of striptease 
on film in the late 1950s and early 1960s (in which La dolce vita played 
a part). Witness the following films: George Sidney's Pal Joey (1957); 
Marc Allegret's Mademoiselle Striptease, with Brigitte Bardot (1957); 
Don Schain's Too Hot to Handle, with Jayne Mansfield (1959); Mervyn 
LeRoy's Gypsy (1962, based on the 1957 Broadway musical); Franklin J. 
Schaffner's The Stripper (1963); and the "Tomorrow" story of Vittorio 
De Sica's Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), with 
Sophia Loren (1964). 

20. Fellini found the inspiration for Ekberg's character in an American 
magazine photograph, according to Alpert, p. 125. Neville, "The Soft 
Life in Italy," p. 67, argues that Anouk Aimee's American car suggests 
her Americanization, thus justifying her "nymphomaniac" behavior 
and treatment in the film. 

21. The director refers to the actress as "Anitona" (Big Anita) in 
Federico Fellini, "La storia di via Veneto," L'Europeo 18 (July 1962), 
p. 60. That Europeans believed Americans to be obsessed with 
extremely large breasts is indicated by various comments in Denys 
Chevalier, Me'taphysique du strip-tease (Metaphysics of the strip-tease. 
Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1961); see, for example, p. 69. 

22. Life 50 (May 12, 1961), pp. 54—55. 

23. See note 5, above. 

24. Negative descriptions of paparazzi were to be the standard fare in 
subsequent published references; see, for example, Hollis Alpert, 
"Adventures of a Journalist," Saturday Review 44 (April 22, 1961), p. 33; 
and John Simon, "The Sour Truth about the Sweet Life," Horizon 4 
(September 1961), pp. no — 12. 

25. Other films in this vein are Air. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra, 
1936) and His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940). 

26. Fellini, "La storia di via Veneto," cited in note 21, above, translated 
as Federico Fellini, "End of the Sweet Parade," Esquire 59 (January 
1963), pp. 98 — 108, 128 — 29; republished as "Via Veneto: dolce vita," in 
Anna Keel and Christian Strich, eds., Fellini on Fellini, trans. Isabel 
Quigley (New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1976), pp. 67-83. 

27. Emily Jay, "When You Travel Alone . . . ," Cosmopolitan 133 
(September 1952), pp. 30-34. See Ruth Orkin, A Photo Journal (New 
York: Viking Press, 1981), p. 90, regarding the genesis of the 

28. See, for example, Edith Templeton's diatribe on oversexed Italian 
men, "Warning to Women Traveling in Italy," Harper's Magazine 214 
(April 1957), pp. 34-37, which includes an illustration of a matronly 
woman with glasses besieged by "cherubic" Italian men (that is, short 
and fat with haloes). 

29. In Italy, the tourist was perceived as more complicit, if not a 
downright seductress. See, for example, Robert Neville's report, "La 
Dolce Vita Sans Kissing," The New York Times Magazine, March 18, 
1962, pp. 79, 96. (The article includes an illustration of a statuesque 
woman surrounded by ogling men with the caption "Irresistible — 
Italian males are apt to display admiration endlessly and openly.") 
See also the letters responding to Templeton's article in Harper's 
Magazine 214 (June 1957), p. 6. 

30. Luigi Barzini, The Italians (New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1964). 

31. "Reflections on the Italians," Time, September 25, 1964, p. 100. 

32. "Putting Up a Front," Newsweek, August 24, 1964, p. 85. 

33. "The Italian Man," with photographs by Paul Schutzer, Life 55 
(August 23, 1963), pp. 55ft. 

34. Letitia Baldridge, "Why I Love Italian Men," Reader's Digest 71 
(July 1957), pp. 58-60. 

35. Fellini frequently claimed that the via Veneto scene was created 

after the film, by thrillseekers who came to find the lite depicted on 
screen. The director stressed that Americans, especially, begged him 
to show them "the sweet life." See Fellini, "End of the Sweet Parade, 
p. 99. See also the director's "Playboy interview," p. 66, in whi< h he 
mentions that American women besieged him because they thought 
he had the "key to happiness." There is no doubt that the him 
influenced tourists' itineraries. Note, for example, the scene in Paul 
Wendkos's Gidget Goes to Rome (1963), in which a paparazzo falls into a 
fountain. Fellini called this "Sviluppi del Gotico" (developments of the 
gothic), as quoted in Secchiaroli, p. 64, who facetiously notes (p. 65) 
that "gli americani vennero in Italia pt r girare queste scene di paparazzi 
che cadevano nelle fontane" (Americans came to Italy to film these scenes 
of paparazzi falling into fountains). 

36. Sontag, p. 57. 

37. She tells the star to write, '"Cabiria Ceccarelli was a guest at my 
house — Alberto Lazzari. " Earlier, she had screamed to two haughty 
streetwalkers, "Look! Take a look who is with me!" Clearly, Cabiria's 
self-worth is determined by association. Correspondingly, the 
newsworthiness of & paparazzo's encounter with a star is largely 
determined by the celebrity's status. Note that one paparazzo is quoted 
as saying, "I make the Via Veneto, and it makes me," in "Paparazzi on 
the Prowl," p. 81. 

38. The first issue of Playboy, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, 
appeared in December 1953. 

39. Once again, parallels in Fellini's work arise. Note, for example, 
Christian Strich, ed., Fellini's Faces, with a foreword by R. D. Laing, 
and an introduction by Federico Fellini (New York: Holt, Rinehart 
and Winston, 1982), which consists of photographs from Fellini's 
"archive" of potential actors. Numerous images resemble the variety of 
amateur photograph sent to pornographic magazines, and at least one 
professional sex worker, Chesty Morgan, is included. 

40. See Paul Willemen, "Letter to John," in Screen. The Sexual Subject: 
A Screen Reader in Sexuality (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 
pp. 171-83. 

41. Barthes, p. in. 

42. Note, for example, Secchiaroli's photo of Fellini making an obscene 
gesture directly at the camera. See also Ron Galella's book Offguard: A 
Paparazzo Look at the Beautiful People (New York: McGraw-Hill Book 
Co., 1976), which is filled with photos of celebrities covering their faces 
or angrily confronting the camera. Galella was instrumental in 
disseminating the concept of a "paparazzo approach" in the United 
States, because he frequently defended his work by referring to it in 
this way, most notably in the legal proceedings that resulted from his 
hounding of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the early 1970s. 

43. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "Queer Performativity: Henry James's 
The Art of the Novel," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studit 1 1 
(1993), pp. 1 — 16. 

44. This means of analysis through reversal owes a debt to Linda 
Nochlin's ground-breaking essay, "Eroticism and Female Imagery in 
Nineteenth-Century Art," in Thomas B. Hess and Linda Nochlin. 
eds., Woman as Sex Object (New York: Newsweek, Inc., 1972), 

pp. 8 — 15; reprinted in Nochlin, Women. Art. and Power and Oi 
Essays (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), pp. 1 }6 -44. 

45. Many other depictions of Italian male vanity could be cited, along 
with the implication, typical of American commentators, that this 
vanity renders their masculinity in question. While the gigolo is 
frequently a comic character in both Italian and American films, it is 
perhaps significant that the illustrations to the Italian version ot 
Fellini's article include many photos ot American actresses m the 
company of Italian men, none ot which were reproduced in tin United 
States publication. These editorial decisions may reflect differing 
standards of journalistic moral responsibility and perceptions ol n 
taste. They may also indicate more deep-seated cultural anxieties 

111 Jennifer />'/( 


Catalogue numbers 366-4-1 

Vincenzo Balocchi 
Mario Bellavista 
Gianni Berengo Gardin 
Carlo Bevilacqua 
Gianni Borghesan 
Piergiorgio Branzi 
Alfredo Camisa 
Mario Carrieri 
Giuseppe Cavalli 
Carla Cerati 
Carlo Cisventi 
Cesare Colombo 
Mario De Biasi 
Toni Del Tin 
Pietro Donzelli 
Mario Finazzi 
Mario Giacomelli 
Guido Guidi 
Mirnrno Jodice 
Alberto Lattuada 
Ferruccio Leiss 
Elio Luxardo 
Nino {Antonio} Migliori 
Carlo Mollino 
Paolo Monti 
Ugo Midas 
Federico Patellani 
Antonio Persico 
Tino Petrelli 
Fulvio Roiter 
Chiara Satnugheo 
Ferdinando Scianna 
Fazio Secchiaroli 
Sergio Spinelli 
Giuseppe Vannucci Zauli 
Federico Vender 
Luigi Veronesi 
Italo Zannier 

366. Elio Luxardo 

L'ltalica bellezza (The Italianate 
Beauty), ca. 1940. Gelatin-silver print, 
$9.7 x 29.7 cm. Fototeca }M. Milan. 

367. Elio Luxardo 

Torso di uomo ("Man's Torso,), ca. 1940. 
Gelatin-silver print, j8 x 28. j cm. 
Fototeca jM, Milan. 

L^r— ~v 

368. Elio Luxardo 

Torso diuomo Mm. l.i 
Gelatin-silver print, 30 x 40 cm. 
Fototeca j W Milan. 




369. Elio Luxardo 

Torso di donna (Woman's TorsoA 
ca. 1940. Gelatin-silver print, 59 x 
29.$ cm. Fototeca }M, Milan. 

370. Elio Luxardo 

Torso di donna (Woman's TorsoJ, 
ca. 1940. Gelatin-silver print, )8 x 
28.5 cm. Fototeca }M, Milan. 

371. Alberto Lattuada 

La Fiera di Senigallia, Milano 
(The Fair in Senigallia, Milan,). 1940, 
printed 199}. Gelatin-silver print, 28 x 
28 cm. Archivi Alinari, Archivio 
Lattuada, Lattuada Gift, Florence. 

372. Alberto Lattuada 

La Fiera di Senigallia, Milano 
(The Fair in Senigallia, Milan,), 1940, 
printed 199}. Gelatin-silver print. 28 x 
28 cm. Archivi Alinari, Archivio 
Lattuada. Lattuada Gift. Florence. 

373. Alberto Lattuada 

La Fiera di Senigallia, Milano 
(The Fair in Senigallia, Milan,/. 1940. 
printed 199}. Gelatin-silver print, 28 x 
28 cm. Archivi Alinari, Arcbivio 
Lattuada, Lattuada Gift, "Florence. 

374. Carlo Mollino 

Senza titolo (Untitled,), ca. 1937, 
printed 1989. Gelatin-silver print, 

38 x 30 cm. Politecnico di Torino, 
Sistema Bibliotecario. Biblioteca 
Centrale di Architettura, Archivio 
Carlo Mollino. Turin. 


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375. Carlo Mollino 

Genesi (Genesis,). 193s- Gelatin-silver 
print, p. 6 x 26.8 cm. Politecnico di 
Torino, Sistema Bibliotecario, 
Biblioteca Centrale di Architettura, 

Archiiio Carlo Mulliiio. Turin. 

376. Mario Bellavista 

Sinfonia (Symphony,), ca. 1940. 
Gelatin-silver print, 22. 8 x 22.8 cm. 
Aluseo di Storia della Fotografia 
Fratelli Alinari, Collezione Zannter, 

377. Mario Bellavista 

Prua/Bow;, ca. 1945. Gelatin-silver 
print, 23. s x 2).$ cm. Collection ofltalit 
Zannier, Venice. 

378. Giuseppe Vannucci Zauli 

Ballerinette ('Little Dancer;, 
ca. 1946. Gelatin-silver print, 17.8 x 
2}. 5 cm. Museo di Storia delta 
Fotografia Fratelli Alinari. Collezione 
Zannier. Florence. 

379. Luigi Veronesi 

Fotogramma (PhotogramA 19)8. 
Gelatin-silver print, 24x28.$ cm. 
Collection of the artist, Milan. 


380. Vincenzo Balocchi 

Mani (Handsj. 1940. Gelatin-silver 

print, jp. 8 x 29.2 cm. Museo di Storia 
delta Fotografia Fratelli Alinari, 
Archivio Balocchi. Florence. 

381. Antonio Persico 

Senza sorriso (Without a Smile,). 1953. 
Gelatin-silver print, ?-. <, x 2s cm. 
Museo di Stun. 1 della Fotografia 
Fratelli Alinari, Collezione Zannier, 

Following two pages: 
382. Federico Patellani 

Oia upazione delle cerre fOo upacion 
of the Land,), ipso, printed 199}. 
Gelatin-silver print, 24.$ x 16 cm on 
sheet }o.j x 40.5cm. Archivio Federico 

P.itdLini. Mil, 111. 

In m 



W <. 

383. Federico Patellani 

Sicilia (Sicily/. 1947. Gelatin-silver 
print. $0.2 x 40 cm. Collection ofltalo 
Zannier. Venice. 

384. Federico Patellani 

II dramma di Carbonia (The 
Carbonia Incident), i(/$o, printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print, 27. 8 x 34. 5 cm. 
Architio Federico Patellani, Milan. 

385. Federico Patellani 

II dramma di Carbonia (The 
Carbonia Incident), ipso, printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print, 28.3 x ij.z cm on 
sheet 40. $ x }o.j cm. Archivio Federico 
Patellani, Milan. 

386. Federico Patellani 

II dramma di Carbonia (The 
Carbonia Incident,), /?;o, printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print, 28.$ x 27.2 cm on 
sheet 40. s x 30./ cm. Archivio Federico 
Patellani, Milan. 

387. Federico Patellani 

II dramma di Carbonia (The 
Carboma Incident,), ipso, printed ippj. 
Gelatin-silver print, 28 x $4 cm on 
sheet 30. 7 x 40.$ cm. Archivio Federico 
Patellani, Milan. 

388. Publifoto 

L'esodo dei milanesi (The Exodus of 
the MilanesiJ, 194}. printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print. }i x $8.scm. 
Agenzia Publifoto, Milan. 

389. Tino Petrelli 

Borsa nera (Black Market). 194% 
printed 199}. Gelatin-silver print, 
40. $ x 31 cm. Agenzia Publifoto, Mi Lm. 

390. Mario De Biasi 

L'incappucciato (The Hooded OneJ. 
ipso. Gelatin-silver print, 39.8 x 
30.4 cm. Collection of the artist. Milan. 

391. Mario De Biasi 

II sagrato del Duomo, Milano 
("The Parvis of the Duomo, MilarU. 
1951. Gelatin-silver print. $9.8 x 
30.4 cm. Collection of the artist. Milan. 

; . •'. f 

392. Ugo Mulas 

Milano (Milan), I9S4- Gelatin-silver 
print, }8 x }7 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas, 

393. Ugo Mulas 

Milano. Bar Giamaica (Milan. Bar 
GiamaicaJ, ca. 1953— <j6. Gelatin-silver 
print, 57 x )8 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas, 

394. Ugo Mulas 

Milano. Bar Giamaica (Milan. Bar 
GiamaicaJ, ca. I955-S 6 - Gelatin-silver 
print, 57. 2 x 37.8 cm. Archivio Ugo 

Mulas. Milan. 

395. Carlo Cisventi 

I pazzarielli (Carnival in Naples,), 
1961. Gelatin-silver print, $9.4 x 
29.$ cm. The Museum of Modern Art. 
New York. Purchase. 










Preceding two pages: 

396. Gianni Berengo Gardin 

Napoli (NaplesJ. 1954. printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print. 26 x }8 cm. 
lection of the artist. 

397. Chiara Samugheo 

Madre (Mother,), 7^55, printed 1993. 
Gelatin-silver print, $o.$x 24 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

398. Chiara Samugheo 

Miracolata di Sant'Antonio (Miracle 
of Saint Anthony ), 19S4. printed 199}. 
Gelatin-silver print. }0.$ x 24 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

399. Chiara Samugheo 

Sottano. I9S$, printed 199$. Gelatin- 
silver print, 30. s x 24 cm. Collection of 
the artist. 

400. Cesare Colombo 

Milano CMilanJ. 1957. Gelatin-silver 
print. }o x 40 cm. Collection of the 
artist. Milan. 

401. Cesare Colombo 

Milano (Milan), ipss- Gelatin-silver 
print, 18 x 24 cm. Collection of the 
artist, Milan. 

402. Gianni Borghesan 

Bambini di Tauriano (Children of 
TaurianoJ, 1954, printed 1993. Gelatin- 
silver print, 30.5 x 37 cm. Collection of 
the artist, Spilimbergo. 

403. Sergio Spihelli 

Orson Welles acquista giornali a 
via Veneto ( Orson Welles Buys 
Newspapers on via VenetoJ. rp}8, 
printed ippj. Gelatin-silver print, 
jo. j x to. s cm. Collection oj tht ./rim. 

404. Tazio Secchiaroli 

II Rugancino, 1958, printed 199$. 
Gelatin-silver print, }o x 40 cm. 
Collection of the artist, Rome. 

405. Tazio Secchiaroli 

II Rugantino. 1958. printed 199}. 
Gelatin-silver print, 30. 5 x 40.7 cm. 
Collection of the artist, Rome. 

406. Tazio Secchiaroli 

II Rugantino, 1958, printed 199}. 
Gelatin-silver print, 39.5 x }o.$ cm. 
Collection of the artist. Rome. 

-*-'f ■ 





407. Giuseppe Cavalli 

Natura Morta ('Still Life;. 1948. 
Gelatin-silver print, 23. $x 17.8 cm. 
Collection of Danielt Cavalli, Rome. 

408. Giuseppe Cavalli 

Natura morta con pesce (Still Life 
with Fish j. ipso. Gelatin-silver print, 
27.5 x }8. 8 cm. Collection 0/ Italo 
Zannier, Venice. 

409. Giuseppe Cavalli 

Grano e ulivi (Wheat and Olive 
Trees), ca. 1943. Gelatin-silver print, 
}0 x 40.4 cm. Collection of Ferruccio 
Malandrini. Florence. 

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410. Giuseppe Cavalli 

Muretto al mare (Wall by the Sea), 
ipso. Gelatin-silver print, 38. 7 x 
28.5 cm. Collection ofDaniele Cavalli. 

411. Fecerico Vender 

Michelle Morgan, ca. 1948. 
Gelatin-silver print. 
}6.g x 29 cm. Collection 0] Italo 
Zannier, Venice. 

412. Mario Finazzi 

Studio su due triangoli (Study 
of Two Triangles). 1954. 
Gelatin-silver print, 51.5 x 
29. s cm on sheet 40 x 29. s cm. 
Collection of Italo Zannier, 



413. Mario Finazzi 

Uova CEggsj. i9Si- Gelatin-silver 
pnnt, jo. 5- x 40. 5- cm. Collection of halo 
Zannier, Venice. 

414. Luigi Veronesi 

Fotogramma (Photogranv. 1964 
Gelatm-ulvt r print, 2$ . $ x 57 . s cm. 
Collection of the artist. Milan. 

415. Ferruccio Leiss 

Sottoportego del Banco Salviati 
'Banco Salviati Arcades i 94 8. 
Gelatin-silver print, 59 . 7X2p .g fw . 
Fototeca 3M. Milan. 



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416. Piergiorgio Branzi 

Pasqua nell'Italia mendionale ("Easter 
in Southern Italy,), ca. ms- Gelatin- 
silver print, 24 x 2p. s cm. Museo di 
Sioria delta Fotografia Fratelli Alinari, 
Co/lezione Zannier, Florence. 

417. Piergiorgio Branzi 

UovafEggsi. i9s(>. Gelatin-silver 
print, 5j x 25.2 cm. Collection oj halo 
Zannier, Venice. 

418. Carlo Bevilacqua 

Coreograha d'ambiente 
(Environmental Choreography^, 1912. 
Gelatin-silver print, i4. 5 x 26.8 cm. 
Collection of halo Zannier, Venice. 

419. Pietro Donzelli 
Marcinelle otto anni dopo 
(Marc inelle Eight Years Later;, 1964. 
Gelatin-silvt r prmt. 23. 8 x $o. 4 
Fototeca j/M. Milan. 

420. Pietro Donzelli 

Marcinelle orco anni dopo 
'Marcinelle Eight Years Later;. i 9 6 4 . 
Gt latin-sih er print. 21. y x 30. j 
'■1. Milan. 

421. Pietro Donzelli 
Manichini (Mannequins*, igsi- 
Gelatin-silver print, {-. $ x 30.3 cm. 
Fototeca jAf, Milan. 

Following two pages: 
422. Vincenzo Balocchi 

Colli di Siena / 1 lilK <>i Siena I, ipjp. 
Gelatin-silver print, 27.1 x 38. j cm. 
Museo Ji Storia della Fotografia 
Fratelli Alinari, Arcbivio Balocchi, 
Flort //it. 








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423. Fulvio Roiter 

Sic ilia ("Sicily ). 19^. Gelatin-silver 
print. 29. s x 23. 6 cm. Collect 11m of Italo 
Zaun/a: Venice. 

424. Fulvio Roiter 

Sicilia: in una cava di zolfo (Sicily: 
In a Sulphur MineJ. 1953. Gelatin- 
diver print, }9 x 29 cm. Collection of 
halo Zannier, Venice. 



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425. Fulvio Roiter 

Umbria, 1954. Gelatin-silver print, 
30 x 2}. 8. Collection of halo Zannier, 

426. Fulvio Roiter 

Je vous attends (I Await You,). /<>«• 
Gelatin-silver print, $o x 24 cm. 
Collection of Italo Zannier, Venice. 

427. Toni Del Tin 

Musica amara (Bitter Music). 
1955. Gelatin-silver print, 37-8 x 
29. 6 cm. Collection of halo 
Zannier, Venice. 

429. Toni Del Tin 

Nozze a Burano (Wedding in 
BuranoJ. ca. 19s 1 ,. Gelatin-silver 
print. }o.$ x 24 cm. Fototeca ,\\l. 

428. Toni Del Tin 

Ora X (X Hour), 1950. Gelatin- 
tilt 1 /• print, 30 x 23. 9 cm. 
Collection ofltalo Zannier, Venice. 

430. Nino [Antonio] Migliori 

Senza titolo (UnntlecO. ip$8. Gelatin- 
silver print, 62.8 x 48 cm. Collection of 
the artist. Bologna. 

431. Nino [Antonio] Migliori 

La mia citta (My CicyA 1958. Gelatin- 
silver print, 68. s x 57. j cm. Collection of 
the artist, Bologna. 

432. Italo Zannier 

Donna carnica (Woman of CarniaJ. 
1953. Gelatin-silver print. 28.$ x 24 cm. 
Collection oj thi artist. Venice. 

433. Gianni Berengo Gardin 

Venezia, acqua alta a San Marco 

^Venice, High Tide in San Marco,), 
i960. Gelatin-silver print, 28.6 x 
20 cm. Collection oj<> Zannier, 

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434. Mario Giacomelli 

Marco l'orfano (Marco the Orphan;. 
ca. 1955. Gelatin-silver print, 28 x 
19 cm. Fototeai }M, Milan. 

435. Mario Giacomelli 

I pretini iThe Seminarians,). 
ca. 1961-6$. Gelatin-silver print, 
18.8 x 28.8 cm. Fototeca $M. Milan. 

436. Mario Giacomelli 

Paesaggio Neris (Neris Landscape/. 
iprf. Gelatin-silver print, 27. 5 x 
$?.$ cm. I 1. Milan. 



437. Mario Giacomelli 

II lavoro dell'uomo ( Man's Labor), 
i9S9- Gelatin-silver print, 24.S x 
$o. j cm. Collection oj halo Zannier, 


438. Mario Giacomelli 

Paesaggio ^Landscape;, ca. ipsS- 
Gelatin-silver print, is- s x 35.5 cm. 
Fototeca j W, Milan. 

439. Mario Giacomelli 

Paesaggio Rita (Rita Landscape), 
ca. ips4- Gelatin-silver print, 23. $x 

$.7 cm. Fototeui ,\\I. Milan. 




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, ' 

440. Mario De Biasi 

Gli italiani si voltano (The Italians 
Turn Around,), 1953. Gtlatin-silvtr 
print . 1 olfaction 

artist, Mi/au. 

441. Paolo Monti 

Milano fMilanJ. ca. 1955- printed 1990. 
Gelatin-silver print, 25.4 x 20.$ cm on 
sheet jo x 20.5 cm. Archivto dell'htituto 

di Fotografia Paolo Monti, Milan. 

442. Paolo Monti 

Milano (MilarW. 19$$. printed 1990. 
Gelatin-silver print, 24.8 x 19.2 cm. 
Arcbu in dell'htituto di Fotografia 
Paolo Monti. Milan. 

443. Paolo Monti 

Cappello Nero (Black HatA 1956. 
printed 1990. Gelatin-silver print, 
2$. 4 x 25. 2 cm on sheet 25. 9 x 25.2 cm. 
Archivio dell'htituto Ji Fotografia 
Paolo Monti. Milan. 

444. Mario Giacomelli 

In uomo, una donna, un amore 
(A Man, a Woman, a Romance! 1961. 
Gelatin-silver print. 23. 8 x 38.8 cm. 
1 tion of Italo Zannier, Venice. 

445. Gianni Berengo Gardin 

Venezia, ll Lido (Venice, the LidoJ, 
19$8, printed 1990. Gelatin-silver print, 
36.5 x 2$. s cm. Collection oftht artist. 

446. Alfredo Camisa 
Siesta, iptf. Gelatin-silver print, 
37 x 29.5 cm. Collection of the artist. 

447. Piergiorgio Branzi 

Donna a Matera (Woman in MateraJ, 
1956. Gelatin-silver print, 29.7 x 
21.$ cm. Collection of Italo Zannier. 



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448. Piergiorgio Branzi 

Contadini di Puglia ("Farmers of 
PugliaA 195$. Gelatin-silver print, 
58. 8x29.5 cm - Collection ofltalo 
Zannier. Venice. 

449. Piergiorgio Branzi 

Ragazzo con orologio fBoy with 
Clock;. iq$8, printed 1992. Gelatin- 
silver print. 37.4 x 29.5 cm. Collection of 
Italo Zannier. Venice. 

450. Mario Carrieri 

Milano, Italia (Milan, ItalyJ, 19^8. 
Gelatin-silvt r print. 19. 2 x 39. s cm. 
Thi Museum oj Modern Art, Neu York, 
Gift of the photographer. 

Following two pages: 
451. Mario Carrieri 

Milano, Italia fMilan, Italy ). ig;8. 
Gelatin-silver print, 28.9 x 4} an. 
The Museum of Modern Art, Neu York, 
Gift a/ tht photographer. 

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452. iraio Zannier 
Interno presso Aquileia C Interior 
Near Aquileia^, 1969. Gelatin-silver 
sepia-tone print. 24. 8 x 24.8 cm. 
Collection of the artist, \ t nit 1 . 


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453. Italo Zannier 

Interno presso Aquileia ^Interior 
Near Aquileiai. 1969. Gelatin-silver 
st phi -tone print. 24. 8 x 24.8 cm. 
Collection of the artist. Venice. 

Following two pages: 

454. Gianni Berengo Gardin 

Istituto psichiatrico (Psychiatri< 
Institute), 1968. Gelatin-silver print, 

21 x }2 cm. Colli*. timi i*i Italo Zannier, 

\ 1 in* 1 . 


-s 5 ' 






- ., J 




455. Mimmo Jodice 

"Figura" ("Figure"). 1968. Gelatin- 
silver print, 59 x 28.$ cm. Collection 0] 

the art nt. 

456. Mimmo Jodice 

Morano Calabro. 1969. Gelatin-silver 
print, 19 x 29, 5 cm. Collection 0/ the 

457. Ugo Mulas 

Biennale di Venezia (Venice 
Biennale,*. 1964. Gelatin-silver print, 

40 x 50 cm. Archu 10 Ugo Mnlas. 

458. Ugo Mulas 

Biennale di Venezia (Venice 
Biennale,). 1964. Gelatin-silver print, 
40 x so cm. Archivio Ugo A\uUis. 

MS : ■ 

"SBSSSSfe- - — -- ^ r 

- - --is*s§£: -,- ■".- 


'- • 

•i i TfTrnirrijii 

' -A ■■■ :; -. 



{ I 





459. Guido Guidi 

Cervia. 1969. Gelatin-silver sepia-tone 

print. 8. $ x 26. s cm on sheet 12 x 30 cm, 
Collection of the artist. 

460. Guido Guidi 

Cervia. i960. Gelatin-silver sepia-tone 

print. 9 x 26. s cm on sheet 12 x 30 cm. 

Collection of the artist. 

461. Guido Guidi 

Cervia, 1969. Gelatin-silver sepia-tone 
print. 9 x 26. 5 cm on sheet 12 x 50 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

462. Guido Guidi 

Cervia, 1969. Gelatin-silver sepia-tone 
print. 8.8 x 26. 8 cm on sheet 12 x 
29. 8 cm. Collection of the artist. 

463. Guido Guidi 

Ronta, 1969. Gelatin-silver sepia-tont 

print. 8.5 x 24.2 cm on sheet 12 x 30 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

464. Guido Guidi 

Cesena, 1969. Gelatin-silver sepia-tont 

print. 8.} x 24.2 cm on sheet 12 x }o cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

a 1 


SftftV' 1 ft. 


' ■ J^l IK- 

M m 

465. Ferdinando Scianna 

Ciminna: Venerdi Santo fCiminna: 
Good Friday). 1962. Gelatin-silver 
print. i$.2x 24 cm. Collection of the 
artist. Milan. 

466. Ferdinando Scianna 

Prizzi: Pasqua fPrizzi: Eastern 1061 
Gelatin-silver print, 26 x 40 cm. 

Collation of the artist. Milan. 

467. Carlo Cerati 

Antigone, Living Theater, scena 
finale. Milano-Teatro Durini-Aprile 
196- f Antigone, Living Theater, Final 
Scene. Milan— Teatro Durini-April 
1967), 1967, printed 1995. Gelatin- 

r print, 24. $ x ;6 cm on sheet $o. 5 x 
40 cm. Collection of the artist. 

468. Carlo Cerati 

Inaugurazione del negozio di Willy 
Rizzo e Nucci Valsecchi, Milano 
("Opening of Willy Rizzo and Nucci 
Valsecchi's Store, Milan.}, 1970, 
printed 1991 Gelatin-silver print, 
24. $x cm on sheet }o.$x 40.3 cm. 
Collection of the artist. 

469. Carlo Cerati 

Manifestazione del movimento 
studentesco in Gallena Vittorio 
Emanuele, Milano fStudenr 
Demonstration in the Gallena 
Vittorio Emanuele, Milan;. 1968. 
printed ivoi Gelatin-silver print, 
24.$ x ifi cm on v 40. \ cm. 

Collection of the artist. 

470. Ugo Mulas 

Biennale di Venezia (Venice 
BiennaleA 1968. Gelatin-silver print. 
38.3 x 37.$ cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas, 

Following two pages: 
471. Ugo Mulas 

Biennale di Venezia (Venice 
Biennale;, 1968. Gelatin-silver print, 
49.$ x 39.5 cm. Archivio Ugo Mulas. 




Cinema, the Leading Art 

Gian Piero Brunetta 

The essential aspects of what has been called cinematic 
neorealism find their ultimate definition in Luchino Visconti's 
Ossessione, more so than in La terra trema. In that archetype, 
the repertory of characters . shots, topographical choices, and 
visual cues is rooted in the soil of a vast figurative culture. . . . 
This, however, is an investigation that art criticism has yet to 
conduct; the story that has followed, which has beginnings with 
Vis con ti and with his perception of Italy in a cinematic light, is 
taking place before our eyes, with such richness and variety that 
one is forced to acknowledge film as today's leading art, just as 
operatic music was during the Romantic age or architecture 
during the early Renaissance. 
— Federico Zeri' 

of the cultural and social processes of postwar Italian life. 

On Visconti's set the labors of a group of young people 
mesh, the same young minds who, a few years earlier, had 
extensively debated the themes that would form the basis 
of neorealist poetics. Following the embryonic phase with 
its idea of cinema as a possible world, Ossessione (Obsession, 
1942; released in English as Ossessione) opened a new phase 
for Italian cinema, one of real morphogenesis, the result of 
which would be the emergence of a series of distinguished 
filmmakers with strongly autonomous visions. 

From its opening shots Ossessione displays, in explicit 
fashion, its cinematic, literary, and visual ancestry as well 
as its ideological and expressive charge (see fig. 1). 
Overcoming the mediation of literature without feeling 
any inferiority toward it (the plot was freely drawn from 
James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, 
1934), the scene seems to open up, for the first time, onto 
an Italy previously excluded from the glories of cinematic 
representation. "The film's story is a rather terrifying one, 
and situated in the sweetest, loveliest of Italian landscapes, 
a piece of Italy that had never before been seen," concludes 
Umberto Barbara in a 1943 article, written right after the 
fall of Fascism's national regime. 1 With its landscape 
passages teeming with a life at times independent of the 
drama of Gino (Massimo Girotti) and Giovanna (Clara 
Calamai), at times symbiotically related to it, the film 
disconcerts its audience. The director's gaze is so powerful 
that, as if by synesthesia, it multiplies and dilates sounds 
emerging from the inert, silent backgrounds of the 
previous decades and transforms them into a scream of 
exceptional violence. 

Contemporary critics realized they were witnessing an 
extraordinary event. Some of them, like Barbara, theorist 
and spiritual father of many aspiring young directors, 
recognized in it the strains of a genetic patrimony with 
roots in Renaissance painting: "Doesn't the apparition of 
the ice-cream cart, so oddly fantastical, have heraldic 
precedents that perhaps go back to Ercole de' Roberti?"' As 
Guido Aristarco would write a few years later, Ossessione 
was to have, for many young critics, an importance every 
bit as great as that of Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg (1924; 
published in English, in 1927, as The Magic Mountain).* 

Thanks to Visconti and to the young people working 
with him, it was as though the spirit of the splendid 
painters of the quattrocento Ferrarese workshop — Cosme 
Tura, Francesco del Cossa, and de' Roberti — had come 
back to life. A bond with a vast artistic heritage was thus 
recuperated through a process of fusion analogous to that 
achieved with matter a short while earlier by the young 
physicists gathered around Enrico Fermi on via Panisperna. 
Once activated, the chain reaction in the film universe 
released an uncontrollable energy and power of a sort never 
before seen. Now cinema — an art form considered 
secondary and lacking its own identity and expressive 
autonomy — would be granted a veritable leadership role 
within the international universe of the arts, from 
literature and theater to music and painting. 

Though the great critical and historical mythologies of 
neorealist film have long asserted a cohesion and 
homogeneity, the landscape I am attempting to describe 
here is anything but cohesive. On the contrary, it is quite 
variegated, though marked by genetic characteristics that 

440 Cinema 

give rise to a narrative and visual universal language. 
Immediately after Ossessione, there was in any case a leap, 
an interval or pause in the evolutionary chain, followed in 
1945 by the appearance of Row a cittd aperta (Rome open 
city, 1945; released in English as Open City, fig. 2), a work 
destined to have even more far-reaching effects on world 
cinema. The Visconti of Ossessione and the Rossellini of 
Roma citta aperta can be included in the same list, yet they 
did not possess — it is wise to clarify this at once — the 
same cultural and ideological chromosomes and would go 
on to create rather dissimilar and distinct oeuvres. 

Although neorealism may have had its day, it has 
endured as an overarching plane of expression, ethics, 
ideology, and aesthetics, offering a platform, points of view, 
and common references in various types of works and for 
diverse filmmakers, without ever strictly coinciding with 
any such work or filmmaker. When one looks more 
generally at the characteristics and dynamics of Italian 
cinema in the decades after 1945, the notion of a 
phylogeny — the evolutionary lines of specific groups of 
individuals and works — becomes quite clear, articulated 
into phases that follow the historic, economic, and 
ideological dynamics of the nation and the world at large. 

For a few years between the end of World War II and the 
period of reconstruction and the Cold War, the sensibility 
dominating the poetics-in-progress of Italian film was 
anthropocentric, coinciding in a common will to watch and 
tell the stories of people who have no story. Beyond the 
expressive quests and risk-taking of individual directors, a 
certain "middle language" was achieved thanks to 
neorealism, an idiomatic dialect — an accepted visual 
lexicon and narrative syntax — that conferred a new, 
definitive identity upon Italian cinema. 

"The films bearing the label neorealism," wrote Jean 
Cocteau in his diary in the late 1940s, "were nothing more 
than Oriental tales. Like the Orient, Italy lives in the 
streets. The Caliph, instead of dressing up as a man of the 
people, dresses up as a movie camera and seeks out the 
mysterious intrigues that take place in the streets and in 
the homes. In Miracolo a Milano [1951; released in English 
as Miracle in Milan], [Vittorio] De Sica pushes the 
Oriental tale to the limit. ' M In an unusual move that went 
entirely against the neorealist current, Cocteau, faced with 
Rossellini's films Roma citta aperta and Paisa (Compatriot, 
1946; released in English as Paisan) and De Sica's films 
Sci/iscia (1946; released in English as Shoeshine) and Ladri di 
biciclette (Bicycle thieves, 1948; released in English as both 
The Bicycle Thief and Bicycle Thieves, fig. 3), invited the 
public not to content itself with the screen's ability to 
reflect, like a mirror, the living conditions of an entire 
nation. Cocteau was suggesting, rather, an equation 
between the great oral tradition and its clamorous 
reincarnation in the tales of Rossellini and De Sica. And he- 
was hailing the possibility of entering the mirror to 
discover, like Alice or the Caliph in The Thousand and One 
Nights, the elusive and unpredictable dimensions of the 
thousand and one Italies in motion and in rapid 

In Paisa Cocteau had seen occur, before his own eyes, the 
miracle of a man, the filmmaker, expressing himself 
through a people, and of a people that in turn expressed 
itself through the filmmaker. Things were starting over 

fig. 1. Massimo Girotti and Clara 
( alamai in Luchino Visconti's 
Ossessione. 1942. 

fig. 2. Roberto Rossellini's Roma citta 

aperta. 194$. 

I (! Gian I'/i In Bi 

fig. ;. Latnberto Maggiorani and Enzo 
Staiola in Vittorio De Ska's Ladri di 
biciclette. 1948. 

fig. 4. Roberto Rossellini's Paisa. 1946. 

from scratch. The movie camera's eye seemed to have 
returned to the point from which the Lumiere brothers' 
cameramen had begun. Beginning anew also means 
rediscovering the world as if it were appearing before the 
director's eyes for the very first time. In reappropriating the 
powers of the gaze one realizes that the criteria, the units 
of measurement, and the systems of reference for the 
representation of reality have to be reestablished. The 
Rossellinian tale unfolds in distinct frames with a 
simplicity and dramatic power akin to that of the great 
medieval fresco cycles of Giotto. 

The unit of measurement for this new, central phase in 
the history of Italian cinema — in a country destroyed 
economically and politically, morally and spiritually, 
physically and materially — was provided, on the one hand, 
by the war's ruins (the physical remains) and, on the other 
hand, by the need to translate at once that little bit of vital 
energy still in circulation (the nonphysical remains, as it 
were) into cultural energy. However briefly it may have 
lasted, the men who contributed to the resumption and 
reconstruction of cinematic activity had the exultant and 
unprecedented sense of having free access to all the 
surfaces of the visible and to all the surfaces of the 

Reconstruction also held open the possibility of once 
again breathing the air of international culture. Cinema 
became — without the need for any further diplomatic 
action — the most rapid means for a torn and vanquished 
Italy, impoverished and lacking credibility, to regain great 
international credit: "There is no doubt," wrote Georges 
Auriol in 1948, "that at the present time, in Europe, if not 
the world over, the cinema has its head in Rome."" And 
there is no doubt that, for a few years, the cinema born and 
raised in the ruins not only represented a will to rebirth, 
but also assumed absolute leadership in the territory of 
Italian and international art. Thanks above all to Rossellini 
and De Sica, for a few years the rhythms of world cinema 
sought to coincide with those of Rome rather than those of 

The poetics of neorealism did not arise from a common 
plan worked out over a cafe table but rather from its 
powerful voice, the lacrimae rerum (tears of the things). The 
movie camera discovered what Eugene Minkowski called 
"lived synchronism," that is, the penetration of screen time 
into the real time of the entire country. The movie 
camera's eye assumed the role of retinal backdrop, a 
backdrop against which converged thousands of unforeseen 
images from which emanated a pathos and an ethos never 
before known. Such vastly different filmmakers as 
Alessandro Blasetti, Mario Camerini, Renato Castellani, 
Giuseppe De Santis, Pietro Germi, Alberto Lattuada, 
Rossellini, Mario Soldati, Visconti, Luigi Zampa, and 
Cesare Zavattini inhabited, for a few seasons, the same 
field of tension. "Neorealism," wrote Andre Bazin, "throws 
cat and dog into one bag. " s 

Even though Rossellini, unlike Visconti, was not 
immediately recognized as the Messiah incarnate, his Roma 
citta aperta introduced a new way of looking at human 
beings and their relationship to things that was destined to 
become the common patrimony of world cinema and to 
orient, like a compass needle, the stylistic, thematic, and 
narrative choices of many filmmakers of subsequent 

442 Cinema 

generations. The director felt himself invested with the role 
of interpreter of the history of all people. Whereas in 
Visconti there is a convergence and metabolization of 
artistic and literary tradition, with Rossellini the cinema 
suddenly freed itself from this tradition, which had to 
some degree determined its prior direction. Indeed, at this 
point, the relationships were actually reversed: it was no 
longer cinema drawing sustenance from the major arts and 
translating literary language into images, or popularizing 
the products of the pictorial and figurative traditions; 
rather, it was cinematic writing that now transformed and 
influenced the various forms of artistic writing. 

It is important to underscore this change, this assertion 
of autonomy. In certain sequences of Paisa, for example, the 
compassion incited in the viewer and the epic of observed 
reality combine in an absolutely natural manner. The result 
evokes great exemplars of Italian painting and sculpture 
from Giotto to Nicolo dell'Arca, passing through 
Michelangelo and the tradition of Caravaggian realism all 
the way up to the paintings, drawings, or sculptures of 
Renato Birolli, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, and Giacomo 
Manzu that were created in the days of wartime struggle, 
resistance, and liberation. How can one fail to see a kind of 
ideal convergence and contiguity between Leoncillo's 
ceramic Madre romana uccisa dai tedeschi I {Roman Mother 
Killed by the Germans /, 1944, cat. no. 16) — made in 
memory of and in homage to Teresa Gullacci, killed in 
Rome during a demonstration with other women in March 
1944 — and the sequence of the death of Signora Pina (Anna 
Magnani) in Roma cltta aperta? How can one fail to sense 
the same high tone of tragedy found in medieval and 
Renaissance sculpture groups in the recovery of the 
partisan's body in the sixth episode of Paisa (fig. 4)? 

Filmmakers of the time had the heady sensation of being 
out to discover and able to conquer potentially all the 
possible loci of Italian reality. Above all they discovered a 
multiplicity of unprecedented forms of verbal and gestural 
communication, of perfect interaction between human 
beings and the environment: they made faces speak; they 
made silences, emptiness, objects, landscape speak; they 
rediscovered meanings and purposes in insignificant 
objects; they ennobled every little gesture. "Man," wrote 
Zavattini, "stands there before us, and we can watch him 
in slow motion to confirm the concreteness of every tiniest 
thought of his." " 

The neorealist gaze was an all-inclusive gaze that aimed 
to embrace the whole of the Italian territory. Pa/sa. and 
Germi's 11 cammino della speranza (1950; released in English 
as The Path of Hope) feature journeys that wend from Sicily 
to northern Italy. The neorealists moved from Sicilian 
mines to the rice fields of the Vercelli region in the 
Piedmont, from the mouth of the Po to the towns of the 
Ciociaria southeast of Rome, from the neighborhoods of 
Naples to the ramshackle suburbs of Rome, and entered 
people's homes to let the movie camera encounter reality 
naturally, without mediation or distortion. By spreading 
out the visual coordinates, the screen's virtual space was 
made to coincide with the space of an imagined Italian 
nation still to be reconstituted and from which it was 
understood as possible to build a new identity. 

The reaffirmation of an anthropocentric and 
anthropomorphic cinema found its highest expression, after 

the masterpieces of Rossellini and De Sica, in Visconti's Lj 
terra trema (1948; released in English as The Earth Trembles), 
loosely inspired by Giovanni Verga's novel, / malavoglia 
(1881; published in English, in 1890, as The Houst b) the 
Medlar Tree). Visconti went to the South in 1948, to Aci 
Trezza in Sicily, to shoot his film among real fishermen and 
in the same settings as those in the novel. He had been 
thinking for many years of transcribing the Verga work to 
the screen; in a 1941 article illustrated with drawings by 
Guttuso, he told of how, through direct contact with the 
land of Sicily, he had seen Verga's language incarnate in the 
landscape, had seen it transformed into body, soul, blood: 
"To a Lombard reader such as I . . . the primitive, gigantic 
world of the fishermen of Aci Trezza and the shepherds of 
Marineo had always seemed upraised by the imaginative, 
violent tone of epic: to my Lombard eyes, though contented 
with the sky of my own land . . . Verga's Sicily had always 
truly seemed the Island of Ulysses."' This strong 
statement, in which reality is directly perceived in its 
mythic and symbolic aspects (perhaps he had been 
influenced by a reading of Elio Vittorini's Conversazione in 
Sicilia {Conversation in Sicily, 1941; published in English, 
in 1949, as /« Sicily']), would also help to determine the 
formal choices of La terra trema: "The power and 
suggestiveness of Verga's novel seem to rest entirely on its 
intimate, musical rhythm ... a rhythm that gives a 
religious, fateful tone of ancient tragedy to this humble 
tale of everyday life, this story seemingly made up of 
discards and rejects, of things of no importance.'" 

Such a poetics clearly prefigures Visconti's dominant 
directorial practices and choices. Approaching this Sicily 
meant, for Visconti, approaching a reality in which any 
gesture, any drama, had the power to burst forth at the 
height of its primitive energy and acquire something of the 
sacred value of Greek tragedy. Conceived as the opening 
segment of a great trilogy, and realized visually in part 
under the influence of the documentaries of directors 
Robert Flaherty and Joris Ivens and the painting of 
Guttuso, La terra trema is a great voyage of catabasis — a 
return to the source, a descent to the roots of the national 
folk culture. The visual score successfully conveys the sense 
of both the violence of class exploitation as well as the 
fishermen's titanic struggle against the forces of nature. In 
this film the director achieved a figurative tension, an 
ability to see and charge the object of his vision with 
meaning, that was never repeated. Neither the sumptuous 
nineteenth-century picture gallery that is ll Gattopardo 
(1963; released in English as The Leopard) nor the 
exploration of chromatic possibilities and splendor ot V 
(Sense, 1954; released in English as Thi Wanton Countt <*> nor 
the infinite gamut of black-and-white half-tones ot /.< notti 
bianche (1957; released in English as Whiti Nights, fig j) 
possesses the innovative power of La fan/ trema, which, 
nevertheless, in terms of public response, was oik ot die 
most clamorous failures in the history ot Italian him. 

In the early 1950s Visconti and a few other filmmakers 
Mario Camerini with Ulissi (1954; released in English as 
( 7i tses), Renato Castellano with Giulietta 1 Romeo i [95 \\ 
released in English as Romeo and Juliet), Guglielmo 
Giannini with Carosello napoletano ( Neapolitan <■ arousel, 
1952; released in English as Neapolitan Fantasy), and 
\'is ( onti with Senso — confronted the problems ot 1 olor as 

1 1 i Gian l'n »" Brunetta 

fig. $. Jean Marais, MariaSchell, 
and Marcello Mastroianni 
(background) in Luchino Visconti's 
Le notti bianche. ipsz 

an expressive medium, achieving results that were in many 
ways original and memorable, but the advent of color did 
not automatically revolutionize cinematic ways of seeing. 
For there was, in Italy, a distrust of color as a form of 
expression that simplified and therefore reduced the 
possibilities of signification; it is notable that Federico 
Fellini would not make his first color feature, Giulietta degli 
spiriti (released in English as Juliet of the Spirits), until 1965. 

In their early color films the directors, cameramen, and 
screenwriters recuperated their pictorial heritage by 
drawing liberally from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century 
Mannerist and Baroque painting, from the eighteenth- 
century townscapes of Francesco Guardi and Antonio 
Canaletto, and from the paintings of the nineteenth- 
century Italian Impressionists, the Macchiaioli. The time 
machine of Italian film, which had seemed to be in 
constant acceleration, experienced a slowdown in these 
films, modulating itself in relation to cultural, not social, 
temporality. Painting found its way onto the screen mostly 
through quotation (as in Senso and Giulietta e Romeo), 
though in many cases the quotation found an added value 
on the screen, as in Carosello napoletano, a cinematic 
transcription of a musical show that, in 1950, Giannini had 
taken around Europe with great success. Of all those 
musicals produced in Italy during the 1950s, this film alone 
can compete, as an equal, with the great American 
musicals. Taking off from the very old song Micbelemma 
and working his way up to the nineteenth- and twentieth- 
century songs Funiculi funiculd, Santa Lucia lontana (Santa 
Lucia far away), Partono i hastimenti (The ships are leaving), 
vita, vita mia (Oh life, my life), Quando spunta la luna a 
Marechiaro (When the moon rises at Marechiaro), in a kind 
of grandiose "songbook" of unparalleled emotional, visual, 
and cultural intensity, the director succeeded in using a 
phantasmagorical play of lights and colors, gestures and 
sounds, scents and odors to illuminate and accompany the 
glorious and sorrowful epic of the population, culture, and 
folk civilization of the great city of Naples. And Giannini 
managed to capture on screen, through a color that 
kinesthetically becomes sound — and, vice versa, through a 
sound that bursts into a continuous symphony of color — 
the city's solar spirit. It was not until the 1960s, with the 
emergence of Michelangelo Antonioni's and Federico 
Fellini's color films, that we would again see movies in 
which color is given so dominant an expressive role. 

For both Antonioni and Fellini, whether working in 
black and white or in color, there was an imperative 
beyond objective reality — which in any case is difficult to 
define — to define the elusive dimensions of subjectivity. 
They were beginning to understand the importance of the 
invisible that lies beyond the visible. The faith in the 
cognitive power of reason — the certitudes provided by 
ideologies, on the one hand, and by the "facts" of reality, on 
the other hand — was being replaced by epistemological 
doubts, by new questions, by perceptions of the 
problematics of the real. Accordingly, in their films, objects 
and forms in space begin, little by little, to lose their 
identities, often appearing to be signals pointing to another 
dimension. The visible, thanks to the gazes of these two 
directors, begins to be presented as a multidimensional 
reality; the empirical data of the everyday begin to fall 
apart, providing no certitudes and mutating in accordance 

444 Cinema 

with the mutations of the inner conditions of the subject. 

More than anyone else, Antonioni, the creator of ll grido 
(1957; released in English as The Outcry), Lavventura (The 
adventure, i960; released in English as LAvventura), and 
Deserto rosso (1964; released in English as Red Desert), 
breathed the spirit of Modern and contemporary 
painting — from Gianni Morandi to Alberto Burri, from 
Giorgio de Chirico all the way to Francis Bacon. From his 
first documentaries and feature films he managed to 
communicate — often with a single image — the feeling of 
malaise, the growing power of emptiness enveloping and 
separating people and things (see fig. 6). In his work of the 
1950s and 1960s, Antonioni sought to replace real spaces 
with topologies that would help to measure the distances 
separating individuals from others or dividing them from 
themselves. In Antonioni's films the perception of space is 
overturned: not only are sight and point of view 
determined by objects, but objects themselves become 
manifest, seeming to incarnate an unprecedented meaning. 
Emptiness prevails over fullness; absence has a greater 
consistency, a greater narrative and dramatic weight, than 
presence. On several occasions the director seemed to want 
to capture on film even the inner radiations of the 
imaginations of his characters as they attempt to flee the 

During a visit to New "York in the early 1960s Antonioni 
asked if he could visit the studio of Mark Rothko, a painter 
for whom he felt a great affinity. After admiring the 
paintings a long time, he observed that those canvases, like 
his own films, speak of "nothingness." The art critic 
Richard Gilman, who was present at the studio visit, later 
pointed out that though not abstract, Lavventura and La 
notte (1961; released in English as The Night), like much 
painting of the time, are self-representational — absolute 
works that do not describe any action, inasmuch as they 
create an action in themselves. ,: 

With Lavventura there coalesces in Antonioni's 
development, though not only for him, a new phase in 
which a closer relationship with the characters was sought, 
and an attempt was made to correlate their movements 
through space — a space suddenly become enigmatic, 
elusive, unknowable — with the movements of the mind. In 
the films of the 1960s the perception of space and of its 
inner coordinates became at once sharper and more 
uncertain. In the opening sequences of Lavventura, but 
especially in Leclisse (1962; released in English as Eclipse), 
space, as in the paintings of Piet Mondrian, is reduced to 
its elementary structures, only later to open up onto other 
dimensions, as in Metaphysical painting. 

The turn to color in the 1964 Deserto rosso extended 
Antonioni's formal and expressive ranges. Now the figures 
in the landscape dissolve, tending to become spots of color. 
As Carlo DiCarlo wrote of the film: 

fig. 6. Monica Vitti in Michelangelo 
Antonioni's Deserto rosso. 1964. 

fig. 7. David Hemmingi in 
Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. 
19 6 6. 

All is color. The green and silver of the cisterns: the black of the 
smokestacks, the junction lines, the trestles: the yellow and 
minium red of the structures: the milk) white, the golden yellow, 
the gray and black of the gas blow-pipes: the violet-green rust of 
the grass: the few plants that twist about themselves id most 
weeping onto the burned, bluish-ocher. gray-sepia, lead-colored 
earth: everywhere a melting pot of incredible, unreal, irreducible 
tints, almost resembling the meteorological impasti 0/ Dubuffet. 

1 M Gian Piero Brunetta 

fig. 8. Federico Fellini on the iet oj 
Otto e mezzo. 1963. 

fig. 9. Marcello Mastroianni in 
Feeler no Fellini's Otto e mezzo. 1963. 

Antonioni went so far as to force these colors, making 
them, even more than the objects, a mirror of the 
emotional and existential state of his characters. The 
cinema seemed to become for him a means of synthesizing 
and reformulating contemporary developments in painting, 
music, and aesthetics. In Blow-Up (1966) he transferred 
these elements to center stage, making them the object of 
the story (see fig. 7). Once the dissolution of the subject 
within the space of the Italian reality had been established 
and presented anew in various forms, Antonioni began to 
feel the need — as would also happen to Pier Paolo 
Pasolini — to verily the facts on a broader scale and to force 
himself into a sort of expatriation, which was followed by a 
literal cultural and iconographical repatriation in the latter 
half of the 1960s, with Blow-Up, made in England, and 
then Zabriskie Point (1970), made in the United States. 

If Antonioni's vision encompassed one of the most 
advanced and far-flung frontiers of visual experimentation 
in postwar cinema, Fellini's was more limited and 
compressed in a geographical sense, seeming, by contrast, 
to fall almost entirely along the Rimini-Rome axis in the 
twenty-year period of interest to us. In fact, however, 
Fellini, too, aimed at exploring and suggesting dimensions 
beyond the details of the visible and at making 
autobiographical memory coincide with collective memory. 
Fellini was one of the few directors in the entire history of 
film who were able to build, in film after film — in a vast 
body of work extending from Liici del varieta (1951; released 
in English as Variety Lights) to La voce delta luna (1990; 
released in English as Voice of the Moon) — a true cosmology 
based on discrete experiences that expand in space and 
time, indefinitely and limitlessly." He could move with 
great simplicity from the spaces of reality to those of 
dream; capable of making several different moments 
coexist in the same sequence, he seemed, like a magician, 
able to control time. 

From La dolce vita (The sweet life, i960; released in 
English as La Dolce Vita) on, Fellini's first-person 
involvement in the production process was quite similar to 
that of many American Action Painters. His is an 
exceptional case of "action filming ': without destroying the 
object of his narrative, the director almost physically 
penetrated his own film, letting his own vital energies 
imbue the images and creating a kind of stream of 
consciousness through the cinematic medium. In fact Carl 
Jung and James Joyce are the most recognizeable tutelary 
deities of Fellini's cinema after La dolce vita. 

After i960 Fellini abandoned any real interest in the 
mimetic representation of everyday life, deciding to enter 
his own inner world in a more definite manner through the 
insertion of oneiric elements into the metacinematic 
structure. One of the foundations of neorealist poetics — 
the attempt to make the real coincide with the visible — 
was left behind, and the movie camera began to stray ever 
more constantly toward the realms of dream and the 
imagination. The dream acquired a material consistency 
and reality seemed but an illusory game of mirrors and 

The key work of the Fellinian cosmogony is Otto e mezzo 
(1963; released in English as 87.). In this film, the director 
defined a structure, achieved a rhythm, and organized the 
shots in a perfect, mutual, internal equilibrium achieved 

446 Cinema 

through a simultaneous movement toward chaos and the 
height of entropy and the sudden and almost magical 
ability to reorder components and rejoin the scattered and 
incomprehensible strands of life experience (see figs. 8, 9). 
In this film, which occupies a position with respect to the 
rest of Italian postwar cinema like that of the Sistine 
Chapel with respect to the rest of Renaissance painting, the 
boundaries of realism are crossed but not entirely lost sight 
of. Through the destructuring of the coordinates of space 
and time, a whole imaginative world is brought into the 
picture and fitted into a grandiose framework. Several 
different threads of time overlap and interweave, while 
inner time dictates the real narrative. 

Otto e mezzo placed Fellini at the highest level of 
visionary filmmaking, alongside the likes of Ingmar 
Bergman, Luis Buhuel, Akira Kurosawa, and Orson Welles. 
In Fellini's subsequent works of the 1960s — films as 
different as Ginletta degli spiriti and Fellini Satyricon 
(1969) — in a state of creative grace, he continued to pull 
out of his hat a vast quantity of images and emotions 
integrating his own experience and personal memories 
with the collective experiences and memories of a world, 
playing with a palette of vastly changing, iridescent colors, 
now dense, rich, bright, and velvety, now cold and ghostly. 
Fellini's journeys were the initiatory journeys into the 
discovery of oneself. Deep down he loved static realities 
and indelible emotions, understanding the imaginative 
power to be found when the mechanism of time was 
oriented against the clock or toward the spaces of the mind 
and the imagination rather than those of reality. 

Although he had once worked with Fellini, collaborating 
on the script of Fellini's Le notte di Cabiria (1956; released in 
English as The Nights of Cabiria and later as Cabiria), Pier 
Paolo Pasolini was to take a very different approach to 
filmmaking. Pasolini was an exceptional man, an orchestra 
unto himself, a King Midas capable of exercising direct 
control over his materials and transforming them even by 
the most elementary contact. He moved quite naturally 
from being a painter to being a screenwriter of films set in 
the run-down suburbs of Rome; little by little, in a process 
that lasted almost ten years, his eyes drew closer and closer 
to the movie camera. In his first two films as director, 
Accattone! (Beggar!, 1961; released in English as Accatone!)"' 
and Mamma Roma (Mama Rome, 1962; released in English 
as Ala ma Roma), Pasolini discovered the image and its 
coordinates with equal excitement and set out on a visual 
quest in which he proved himself capable of creating 
perfect cinematic equivalents to the painting of Piero della 
Francesca, Masaccio, and Masolino. 

If, as we have seen, Barbaro succeeded in grasping the 
connections between the painting tradition and Italian 
cinema, it was the lectures of the great art historian 
Roberto Longhi that, in the long run, seem to have acted 
most profoundly and directly on the work and vision of 
Pasolini. For Pasolini, Longhi's work constituted a 
fundamental reference point, and his charismatic teaching 
at the University of Bologna became the vital lymph, tin 
flesh and blood of his poetics and expression. To Longhi, 
Pasolini owed illuminations that became first poetry, then 
prose, then cinematic images. 

Pasolini's films continually give the impression of a 
director mesmerized by every face and body lie filmed, 

fig. iv. Pier Paolo Pasolini in bis 
II decamerone. 19 ji. 

.}.(- Gian /'.-. 1 /■' <//,/ 

separating them from the story and violating all the 
preexisting rules of cinematic grammar and syntax. Film 
brought out the best in his painterly education, which for 
over a decade had remained in a latent state, ready to 
explode in many different directions. At the same time, his 
writing had been ready to transform itself into images and 
to do so in such a way that the transition was almost 
unnoticeable. By the end of the 1950s writing could no 
longer afford him the sense of total identification with its 
object, compared to the often stunning power of images 
randomly discovered by moving one's gaze in a circle and 
stopping suddenly on a face that directly expresses the 
material reality of an idea. 

With the use of color the possibilities grew considerably, 
and the Longhi influence, after a long distillation, yielded 
the stupendous images of "La ricotta" (an episode in the 
anthology film Rogopag, 1962; released in English as 
Rogopag): the play of dissonance and chromatic and aural 
counterpoints, of quotations, of sacredness and the 
desacralizing of the figurative and the possibility of giving 
it new form and life on the screen. Film, compared to 
fiction, had a tremendous regenerative effect on Pasolini, 
acting almost as an intravenous infusion, a complete 
renewal of his poetic circulatory system. Yet the traditions 
of painting and of literature would, throughout his career, 
remain the favored territories of his creative inspiration. 

Compared to the filmmakers of the French New Wave, 
who saw reality only through the lens of cinematic 
experience, Pasolini observed the world of the Roman 
periphery through the filter of his artistic education. 
Painting, for him, was a means of access, a magical 
assistant enabling him to enter effortlessly into the space of 
film. And in his early films he created a time that is not 
the time of cinematic narration, nor that which found its 
way into French film through the Ecole du Regard. Rather, 
it is the time of the spectator's sight when viewing a 
painting. His idea of space and time is comparable to that 
of a medieval painter: Pasolini seemed to know only two- 
dimensional space and to be entirely ignorant of 
perspective. And yet even when making an obvious 
quotation from one painting or another, he always sought 
to give cinematic life to the iconography of reference. 

Pasolini truly wanted to use the movie camera as a 
paintbrush and went so far as to appear in // Decamerone 
(1970; released in English as The Decameron), his film based 
on Boccaccio's fourteenth-century classic, as a Giottolike 
painter who moves about and observes the world with a 
precinematic eye (fig. 10). The classics — in such films as // 
vangelo secondo Matteo (1964; released in English as The 
Gospel According to St. Matthew), Edipo re (1967; released in 
English as Oedipus Rex), and / racconti di Canterbury (1972; 
released in English as The Canterbury Tales), among 
others — served him as a kind of natural environment in 
wliu h to ( amouflage, project, recognize, and reveal himself 
according to the needs and the stages of a journey that 
seemed already entirely written out and anticipated in the 
pages of the great literature of the past. 

Vet even when he used literary space to tell of himself, 
Pasolini acted in the spirit of a nomad. He used the classics 
to move between history and myth — between "the vain 
movemeni ol pr< sent time"" and the sense of repetition, of 
irn, of original stasis, between the linear narrative path 

with its sense of closure and the notion of infinite 
circularity. For Pasolini the primary concern was the deep 
meaning of the parable of individual and collective 
existence, the exemplary significance of every parable or 
tale. Literature and painting were for him a means of an 
obsessive search for paradise lost and an observation point 
from which to gaze on the present and the future. 

Even if Bernardo Bertolucci's first film, La commare secca 
(1962; released in English as The Grim Reaper), seems to 
have been born of one of Pasolini's ribs, in it his gaze 
gradually reveals itself as a perfect blend of the geniuses of 
artistic tradition and cinematic tradition. In Bertolucci, 
more than in any other filmmaker of his generation, there 
is also a cross-contamination and constant fusion between 
elements specifically linked to Italian cinema and culture 
(Verdian opera especially) and motifs that immediately 
give his films an international scope and frame of reference. 
Though Bertolucci was driven from his very first films to 
go on a kind of journey in search of his father and his own 
family roots, these films are informed by a stereoscopic 
gaze through which every space is a place of places, an 
intersection of autobiographical emotions and memories 
and international artistic, literary, and cinematic 

La strategia del ragno (1970; released in English as The 
Spider's Stratagem) can be considered the young director's 
moment of arrival, and a decisive turning point in his 
work. Among many other things the film is also an 
exceptional repertory of painterly images — from the 
Surrealist painting of Rene Magritte to the Metaphysical 
painting of Giorgio de Chirico to the realism of Edward 
Hopper and the visions of various na'ifs scattered about the 
Po River valley — that the director has reordered and 
revived. And with this film he began his association with 
the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro: thanks to Storaro, 
and to their combined meditation on the transformative 
role of light, its connotative function would start to become 
clear, assigned the task of orchestrating — playing an even 
more important role than music — the meaning of the film. 

An implacable light immobilizes the characters under 
the sun of the first afternoon or under the rays of the moon, 
a light that communicates tactile sensations and sound 
vibrations and lends magic and mystery to the figures in 
the landscape. In // conformista (1970; released in English as 
The Conformist) "the separation of light and shade in Rome 
and the fusion of light and shade in Paris, the utilization of 
effects of blue and orange, of gray and white and violet, 
both indoors and outdoors, the plays of backlighting, up to 
the visionary immersions in darkness in the last part of the 
film, build up a visual fabric so suggestive that it becomes 
the very focal point of the linguistic system.'"" The results 
of Bertolucci and Storaro's collaboration — which with the 
passage of time became a true creative intermarriage — 
would effect, in the decades to follow, a profound change in 
the consciousness of the role of light for filmmakers all over 
the world. 

The visual quest of post-neorealist Italian cinema does 
not, however, reside only in Antonioni, Fellini, Pasolini, 
and Bertolucci. We cannot forget such other important 
names as Mauro Bolognini, Franco Brusati, Marco Ferreri, 
Ermanno Olmi, Elio Petri, Gillo Pontecorvo, Francesco 
Rosi, Ettore Scola, Florestano Vancini, and Valerio Zurlini, 

448 Cinema 

all of whom participated in this cinematic deconstruction 
of the visible world. 

In the 1970s, because of shifts in the economic, 
ideological, and cultural landscape, Italian film began to 
lose its creative and vital energy and, with it, its cultural 
hegemony. In a rather short space of time, despite the fact 
that certain directors — Antonioni, Bertolucci, Fellini, 
Olmi, Rosi, and Scola — continued to create important 
works, there was a general withdrawal from artistic 
experimentation and linguistic creativity. In this climate of 
doubt neither literature nor art, which had served Italian 
filmmakers so well in the postwar years, could continue to 
serve as an authentic source of creative support or 
reference. Rather, the artistic patrimony seems to have 
become excess baggage, ballast that the new generation of 
directors, whose dominant models and visual and narrative 
syntax owe more to television and MTV, have attempted to 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

1. Federico Zen, La percezione visiva dell' Italia t degli italiani (The 
visual perception of Italy and the Italians. Turin: Einaudi, 1989), p. (>; 

2. Umberto Barbaro, "Realismo e moralita," Film (■>, no. )\ ( Jul) ji, 

I'M?). P- 3- 

3. Umberto Barbaro, "Neo-reahsmo," Film 6, no. 13 (June 5, 1945). p. t 

4. Guido Aristarco, "II neorealismo cinematografico," L'europ 
(June 4, 1976), p. 34. 

5. Jean Cocteau, Le passe' de'fini (The past denned. Paris: Gallimard, 
1983), p. 351. 

6. Georges Auriol, "Entretiens romains," La revue d 11 cinema, no. 13 
(May 1948), p. 54. 

7. Eugene Minkowski, 11 tempo vissuto (Time lived. Einaudi: Turin, 
1983), p. 20. 

8. Andre Bazin, Qu'est-ce que le cinema. IV: Une estbetique de li rialiti 
dans le neo-realismc (What is cinema, IV: an aesthetics of reality in 
neorealism. Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1962), p. 16. 

9. Cesare Zavattini, speech given at the Perugia conference on "II 
cinema e l'uomo moderno" (The cinema and the modern man), 1949. 
Reprinted in Mino Argentieri, ed., Neorealismo (Neorealism. Milan: 
Bompiani, 1979), p. 63. 

10. Luchino Visconti, "Tradizione e invenzione," in Stile italiano ml 
cinema (Italian style in cinema. Milan: Daria Guarnati, 1941), p. 78. 

11. Ibid., p. 79. 

12. Seymour Chatman, "All the Adventures," in Seymour Chatman 
and Guido Fink, eds., Uavventura (The adventure. New Brunswick, 
N.J.: Rutgers Film in Print, 1989), p. 3. 

13. Carlo DiCarlo, "II colore dei sentimenn," in Michelangelo 
Antonioni, Deserto rosso (Red desert. Bologna: Cappelli, 1964), p. 17. 

14. The most recent, complete, and coherent analysis of Fellini's 
universe can be found in Peter Bondanella, Tbt Cinema oj Federico 
Fellini (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). 

15. Accatone! was based on Pasolini's novel Una vita violenta (1959; 
published in English, in 1968, as A Violent Life). 

16. Gian Piero Brunetta, "Longhi e lofficina cinematografica," in 
Giovanni Previtali, ed., Larte di scrivere sull'arte (The art of writing 
about art. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1982), pp. 47-56. 

17. Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo re (Oedipus rex), ed. Giacomo Gambetti 
(Milan: Garzanti, 1967), p. 130. 

18. Paolo Bertetto, "Filosofia della visione," in Paolo Bertetto, ed., 
Vittorio Storaro. Un percorso di luce (Vittorio Storaro, a path of light. 
Turin: Allemandi, 1989), p. 9. 

449 Gian Piero Brunetta 

Visconti's Senso: Cinema 
and Opera 

Teresa de Lauretis 

In cinema, history is nowhere else but in representation. . . . 
The historical film is full o/cinema, not of the past. Any move 
of the eye (the camera's and the spectator's) that establishes a 
relationship between nationality and history is reactionary if it 
is not crossed by a reflection on its reality "in progress, " a reality 
that ipso facto includes the institution and the specific 
mechanisms of representation. 
— Dedi Baroncelli' 

History and cinema are two sites and anchorage points of 
Italian aesthetics and social thought throughout the 
twentieth century. Their imbrication in one another and in 
other forms of art both high and popular — from literature 
and music to theater, painting, fashion, and stage or set 
design — is what characterizes the cinema of Luchino 
Visconti as a reflection on "reality in progress," a reality 
that includes, most explicitly, the various apparatuses of its 
representation and the institutions within which they 

Visconti's first black-and-white features were Ossessione 
(Obsession, 1942; released in English as Ossessione), adapted 
from James M. Cain's popular novel The Postman Always 
Rings Twice (1934), and La terra trema (1948; released in 
English as The Earth Trembles), which transposed into film 
language the unique linguistic experiment of Giovanni 
Verga's novel / Malavoglia (1881; published in English, in 
1890, as The House by the Medlar Tree). These two films 
transform literary works into altogether new cinematic 
forms, in which the specificity of local histories (of the Po 
delta region and of Sicily, respectively), while remaining 
implicit, is evoked in the graininess or stark contrast of the 
images, the slow tracking shots of roads and landscapes, 
the sound of the waves, the long, silent takes. It is with 
Senso (Sense, 1954; released in English as The Wanton 
Countess)* Visconti's first color feature, that the reflection 
on history becomes explicit, foregrounded, thematized. 

A story of sexual passion clashing against political and 
familial loyalties, set in Venice under Austro-Hungarian 
rule just before Italy's Third War of Independence in 1866, 
Senso is scripted from Camillo Boito's eponymous novella, 
but significantly recast. Boito's Senso (1883), written some 
twenty years after the historical events that are its 
backdrop, indirectly remarks on the waning of the 
patriotic ideals and wholesome values that animated the 
Risorgimento, the drive of the Italian middle classes to 
national independence and nationhood that went on from 
the 1830s to 1870. Made not even ten years after the end of 
Italy's civil war and the Resistance to Nazism and Fascism, 
Visconti's Senso reproposes Boito's cynical tale of passion 
and betrayal, reframing it in the light and sounds of a 
traditionally "Italian" form of representation, melodramma, 
making history integral to the emotional structure of the 
drama, and music integral to the formal structure of the 
film. In other words, the film is an experiment in form, in 
film as opera — a cinematic opera. 

Visconti's Senso is about Livia, Countess Serpieri (played 
by Alida Valli), who falls in love with a young Austrian 
officer, Franz Mahler (played by Farley Granger), and 
becomes his mistress. Livia's much older husband (played 
by Heinz Moog) is a high-ranking civilian collaborator; her 
cousin, the Marquis Roberto Ussoni (played by Massimo 
Girotti), is a patriot and a member of the Venetian 
liberation movement, to which Livia is also sympathetic ("I 
am like my cousin," she tells Franz early in the narrative, "a 
true Italian"). Thus she will accept in safekeeping the funds 
collected to aid the patriots' insurrection (or, as Visconti 
has Ussoni say, "our revolution"). While Livia discovers 
sexual love in sleeping with the enemy, Franz is fickle and 
jaded; soon after their first night together, he begins 
missing their appointments in a rented room. Livia goes to 
look for him in his quarters, exposing herself to the 

450 Cinema 

derision of the other officers, only to discover that he has 
been spending his time with other women and has sold the 
precious locket she had given him. 

At the war's outbreak the Serpieris leave Venice for their 
country villa; Livia is frantic, for she had been unable to 
find Franz before her departure. When he suddenly appears 
at the villa, professing his love and telling her a story of a 
"friend" who had bribed the military doctors to avoid 
going to the front, she offers him the patriots' money to 
buy his own release and promises to join him in Verona as 
soon as he can send word. But as the news from the front 
makes her fear a possible Italian victory, which would 
separate the two lovers indefinitely, Livia departs on an 
arduous and dangerous journey through a war-torn 
landscape. Arriving at last in Verona, she finds Franz in his 
apartment in the company of a young prostitute with 
whom he has spent the night. Drunk, disheveled, and 
wallowing in self-pity, Franz brutally scorns Livia, giving 
the lie to her romantic hero: he is a coward, he flaunts, but 
why not? Austria may win this battle but will lose the war, 
and the world to which they belong is doomed to end. He 
insults and cruelly humiliates her by forcing her to 
confront the prostitute as a younger and more attractive 
version of herself. Crazed with jealousy, loss, and 
humiliation, Livia denounces Franz as a deserter to his 
commanding officer, and then, calling his name, wanders 
in despair through the night streets where drunken 
Austrian soldiers celebrate their victory in the battle of 
Custoza. At dawn Franz is executed. 

With his scriptwriter, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, and the 
collaboration of Giorgio Bassani, among others, as well as 
Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles, who wrote the 
dialogue in English (for free, Williams recalled, out of 
admiration for the director), 1 Visconti rewrites Boito's story, 
adding the pivotal character of Ussoni to establish the link 
between private and political betrayal: ineffectual and 
undeveloped as a character, Ussoni is the dramatic trope 
through which sociopolitical events affect personal history, 
and history inflects story. In Boito's misogynous Senso — 
told in the first person, retrospectively, by its aging 
protagonist — the young Countess Serpieri first meets 
Lieutenant Remigio Ruz in a fashionable cafe on Piazza San 
Marco, where, off duty between battles, the Austrian 
officers entertain the ladies of the Venetian Austrophile 
aristocracy; she has no interest in politics or concern for the 
Italian cause. In Visconti's Senso, on the contrary, a slightly 
older and patriotic Livia meets the handsome young 
lieutenant at a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's // trovatore 
at La Fenice, Venice's opera house. When he insults the 
Italian patriots engaged in an anti-Austrian demonstration 
and is challenged by Ussoni, Livia asks to be introduced to 
him, hoping to prevent the duel. The lieutenant's name is 
now Franz Mahler. 

Verdi and Gustav Mahler. Two points of reference 
paradigmatic of an artist, an intellectual, and a cultural 
figure whose work in film from Ossessione in 1942 to 
Linnocente (released in English as The Innocent) in 1976 is at 
once haunted by the phantasms of a singular personal 
history and yet representative of the contradictions of Italy's 
social and political history. Visconti was an aristocrat, a 
man of privilege whose Communist beliefs and 
homosexuality — the latter widely rumored and never 

publicly avowed — made him eccentric, as becomes "the 
artist," but did not relegate him to the isolation of the 
margin, the embarrassing vulnerability of a Pier Paolo 
Pasolini. "Franz Mahler" is the name of Visconti's romance 
with German music and (what we now call) high culture, 
which he inscribed, exposed, indicted, and returned to in 
his films again and again, as to the structure of an 
obsession. As Mahler's Third and Fifth symphonies will 
accompany the descent, the love and death, of Gustav von 
Aschenbach in Visconti's 1971 recasting of Thomas Mann's 
Der Tod in Wenedig (1912; published in English, in 1925, as 
Death in Venice), here Anton Bruckner's Seventh Symphony 
underscores, in counterpoint to Verdi, Franz's and Livia's 
mutual and multiple betrayals, their respective dishonor 
and lust for death, the utter degradation of their world. 

Critics have spoken of Visconti's "duplicity," or what I 
would rather call his double vision. 4 On the one hand are 
his unhesitating commitment to anti-Fascism and later to a 
progressive, left-wing cultural politics partial to Lukacsian 
realism; his invention of the cinematic language that was 
to become known as neorealisrrT; his iconoclastic stage 
productions of theatrical classics; and his singular role in 
the resurgence throughout Europe of Verdi and Italian 
opera, in contrast to "Wagnerism." (From 1954, the year of 
Senso, to 1957, Visconti directed five Italian operas for La 
Scala in Milan, all starring Maria Callas in her now 
legendary performances of Gasparo Spontini's La vestaL, 
Vincenzo Bellini's La sonnambula, and Verdi's La traviata; 
his production of Verdi's Macbeth in 1958 virtually launched 
the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi; his 1964-66 directing 
seasons included // trovatore and Richard Strauss's Der 
Rosenkavalier in London and Verdi's Falstaffm Vienna.)' 
On the other hand, these very choices and his partiality to 
the past, to looking back toward or examining a given 
cultural formation in its last stages of dissolution, went 
hand in hand with an individualistic, aristocratic 
conception of the artist, the intellectual, and the work of 

Senso was seen as the crystallization of Visconti's own 
contradictions. For some it stood as the great divide 
between the impressionistic, rough, unfinished products of 
neorealist aesthetic and the mature dramatic, narrative, 
and filmic complexity of a proper cinematic realism. For 
others it was the confirmation of an aestheticizing, 
nostalgic, decadent vision that belied the directors 
progressive image; they reproached him for not producing 
^exemplary text of Marxist realism. As Adelio Ferrero 
noted, Visconti directly contributed to the construction ot 
this critical image ot himself through his organic role in 
the construction of "a certain history of a pro^ressixe and 
antifascist Italian culture." I would add that he- also 
contributed to the critical controversy by the integrity with 
which he pursued his double vision and inscribed his own 
personal-political contradictions in the film, lor this ur\ 
reason, I suggest, Senso retains an edge, a sense ot 
irresolution, a fantasmatic quality that exceeds the 
definition of realism and insistently foregrounds, instead, 
the question ol representation. 

From its opening shots through tin- finale ot Franz's 
execution SeitSO is yrand opera, drama in musi( . It opens 
with an extreme long shot ot the Stage on \vhn h the lovers 
Leonora and Manmo sing a farewell duet at the end ot 

(Si It n './ ./. / 

figs. I. 

Act III of// trovatore, while the opening credits appear in a 
slow succession of lap dissolves, followed by two tracking 
shots of Manrico singing the incendiary aria "Di quella 
pira" (Of that pyre), then by a series of slow zigzagging 
pans that reveal the orchestra pit, the orchestra, and the 
boxes crowded with Venetian civilians and Austrian officers 
(the Austrians also love opera). It closes with the tableau of 
Franz's execution, also in an extreme long shot from behind 
and to the right of the firing squad: his white uniform 
against the background of a naked brick wall, the drums 
rolling, his body on the ground, then dragged offscreen. 
The field remains empty for a while before the end credits 
begin to roll. Between these strongly marked operatic 
moments the spectator is caught up in a self-reflexive and 
ironic operatic world. In a way the Austrian lieutenant and 
the Italian countess never leave the theater; nor do we: they 
replace Manrico and Leonora, and resignify their story for 
us. As one of the film's most perceptive viewers, Guido 
Fink, observed, "Even though we may think we have left La 
Fenice, Senso keeps relaying [our look] from one curtain to 
another, as in the scene of the thousand doors flung open 
by Livia [at the villa}, and the last curtain is the black veil, 
now thick and impenetrable, that Franz rips off the woman 
after shouting the truth in her face." K 

But Senso is not a filmed opera like Joseph Losey's Don 
Giovanni (1978); not a melodrama in the Anglo-American 
sense of a staged play with a sensational appeal to audience 
emotions. Nor is it a film melodrama in the best 
Hollywood tradition of, say, Douglas Sirk's Written on the 
Wind (19 s 6), itself a story of familial (oedipal) and class 
conflict conveyed by the high aesthetic values of its mise- 
en-scene, expressionistic use of color, and pervasive formal 
excess. Senso is melodramma in the specific Italian 
understanding of a dramatic composition for voice and 
music. If Sirk's film, perhaps owing to his German 
background and sensibility, does come close to Visconti's in 
its meticulous and formal regard for mise-en-scene, still 
the difference between melodrama and melodramma rests 
on the latter's use of music as an equally constitutive 
formal element of the film. 1 ' 

Although the protagonists of Senso do not sing, it is the 
music on the soundtrack that expresses their feelings and 
inner conflicts more subtly than do their words, and that 
conveys to the spectator what they, indeed, may not yet 
know. Take the meeting of Livia and Franz in the long 
opening sequence at La Fenice. Alter Manrico's aria and the 
chorus of his men ready to fight or die ("To arms!"), the 
balcony explodes with applause and shouts of "Long live 
Italy!" and various equivalents of "Austrians go home," and 
the theater is inundated with tricolored flower bouquets 
and leaflets. During the ensuing confusion, as Livia 
watches from the proscenium box she and her husband 
share with the Austrian general, Franz laughs at the 
Italians, who "prefer to make war with confetti and 
mandolins," and Ussoni calls him a coward (prophetically) 
and slaps him with his gloves. As Franz looks at him and 
simply walks away, a patriot is being arrested; Ussoni gets 
into a fight with the guards (he too will be arrested), and 
Livia conceives her plan to prevent the duel and save 
Ussoni. She coyly asks the general to be introduced to 
Franz, who is the talk of the town as a ladies' man. 

On stage, Act IV of II trovatore begins: Leonora 

452 Cinema 

approaches the tower where Manrico is imprisoned; she 
plans to save him by offering herself to his captor, Conte di 
Luna (as Livia plans to save Ussoni by flirting with Franz, 
although, unlike Verdi's heroine, Livia will be caught in her 
own desire). Franz appears at the box door in medium 
close-up. A tracking shot follows his entrance reflected in a 
large mirror: we see his back, the general and Livia seated, 
Leonora singing on the stage in the background. 
Throughout the scene of Mahler's introduction and their 
conversation in code ("Do you like opera, Lieutenant 
Mahler?" "Yes, very much, Countess, when it is an opera I 
like. . . . What about you?" "I like it too. But not when it 
takes place offstage ... or when someone acts as a 
melodrama hero . . . without thinking of the grave 
consequences of his impulsive action"), their words are 
juxtaposed with Leonora's voice singing of her love for the 
imprisoned Manrico. 

At this point the camera reframes them so that the left 
half of the frame is occupied by Franz and Livia and the 
other half by the stage and Leonora (fig. i). In a visual 
equation Franz thus becomes symmetrical with the empty 
place of Manrico on the stage, occupying, that is, the place 
that in Livia's conscious intentions should properly be 
Ussoni's. Cut to a full, low-angle shot of Leonora alone — 
only her voice is heard — then again to Livia and Franz, 
who asks to see her again. Livia suddenly "feels ill" and 
rises to leave. Leonora is singing "Ma deh, non dirgli . . . le 
pene del mio cor" (But please don't tell him of the grief in 
my heart), and it is her voice, Verdi's music, that explains 
to us, if not yet to Livia, why she feels "ill." 

Franz and Livia meet again the next evening when she 
goes to say good-bye to Ussoni, who is being deported into 
exile. "When I saw that officer again, I realized why I was 
afraid," her voice confesses offscreen, unexpectedly 
revealing that the whole film is a memory (although its 
subject of enunciation is left undefined, for we never see 
the Livia who is remembering). What we do see is her 
effort to avoid him. Franz, however, insists on 
accompanying her home because of the curfew. He denies 
any responsibility in the sentence of exile and intimates 
that Ussoni is Livia's lover. As she walks away ("No 
gentleman would use his advantage to insult an unescorted 
woman"), he laughs and follows her. On the soundtrack 
Bruckner's Seventh Symphony begins.' Undermining the 
"virile and patriotic notes of // trovatore," as Fink puts it, 
the "subtle poisons" of Bruckner's first movement {allegro 
moderato) follow Franz following Livia at some distance," 
across a bridge and along the dark portico of the 
fondamenta Riello, the shimmering bluish lights reflected 
on the water casting eerie shadows on the decaying low 
buildings. She protests his following, he demurs — their 
words, like a recitative, only briefly interrupting the 
music — until she almost stumbles on the corpse of a 
white-uniformed young man; then Franz overtakes her, 
examines the dead Austrian soldier, and drags Livia into a 
dark archway (fig. 2), lowering the veil on her face just as 
an Austrian patrol enters the frame. After the soldiers 
leave with the body, cursing the Venetians, Livia lifts her 
veil, thanks Franz, and walks away from him toward 
the camera. 

With Livia's "thank you," the music resumes. Insinuating, 
persistent, in crescendo, the second theme of Bruckner's 

fig- 3- 

is; 73 n \a ./. / 

h s - 4. $■ 

Adagio signals to the spectator that a turning point has 
been reached. Indeed, as Franz persists in following her, 
speaking of the young Austrians' loneliness so far from 
home, in a hostile country, Livia finally yields to a more 
intimate dialogue: she stops and turns to tell him that 
Ussoni is not her lover but her cousin, "the person I most 
admire in the world." Again she walks away, bidding Franz 
good night; again he follows. But now the music invades 
the screen, sensual, overpowering, and, in unison with 
Livia's voice-over ("We walked together along the deserted 
streets. . . . My forebodings had vanished. . . . Time stood 
still. Nothing existed but my guilty pleasure at hearing 
him talk and laugh"), enclosing them in an intimacy that, 
as if in judgment, the high camera angle denies (fig. 3). 

Throughout this scene — starting with the handcuffed 
Ussoni's departure, through the discovery of the dead 
Austrian soldier (a foreshadowing of Franz's end) and the 
patrol's curse on the Venetians, to the conversation about 
the approaching war by the well in the Campo del 
Ghetto — the sensual suggestiveness of the music contrasts 
with the aloofness of the camera and the proxemic distance 
of the two actors (Franz walks at least two paces behind 
Livia, even during the voice-over shots). One is reminded 
of Fedele D'Amico's recollection of Visconti's production of 
Don Carlos at the London Royal Opera: "Music alone had 
the task of revealing the inner depth of the soul, of 
unraveling the twisted thread of the drama, while the 
mise-en-scene laid before our eyes the outward covering, 
the appearances. And one realized that nothing would suit 
this story of hypocrisy and passions smothered by the State 
better than such a contrast.'" 2 In Senso, as well, it is the 
music that constructs the scene as one of seduction, over 
against the images, dialogue, and locations, which are 
about war, enmity, and death. Indeed, the music flows 
uninterrupted, bridging a temporal ellipsis of four days, 
into the next sequence — Livia's capitulation, her decision 
to become Franz's mistress, her breathless trip across the 
city to him. 

The music and the camera tell different versions of the 
story, marking an ironic distance between internal, 
subjective perception and external or historical judgment. 
The latter, however, is not proffered from a transcendent 
vantage point outside the story but is inscribed in the 
telling of the story and thus is conditional upon its 
representational apparatuses, cinema and melodramma. 
Realism, or the reality effect produced by on-location 
filming and by the painstaking attention to costume, 
furnishings, lighting, and interior decor that recreate a 
believable nineteenth-century ambience, is undercut by the 
very setting of the story: the "real" buildings, bridges, and 
canals of a most theatrical city, as well as the magnificent 
villa Godi di Valmarana (built by Palladio in 1540-42) with 
its trompe-l'oeil frescoes of the Veronese school (figs. 4, 5), 
contain the figures of Livia and Franz en ab/me, within a 
history of representation, a history that is itself, always, 

In Senso cinema and melodramma weave together history 
and story, the political and the personal, in a tightly 
crafted, allegorical symmetry of events, gestures, and 
figures that return obsessively in visual rhymes — 
doublings, foreshadowings, mirror images. These, however, 
are semantically and ironically reversed: Leonora and Livia; 

454 Cinema 

Livia and the prostitute; the dead Austrian soldier and 
Franz; Franz and Ussoni; Livia walking across Venice to 
Franz and Livia wandering through Verona after the final 
betrayal; the lowering and raising of Livia's veil by Franz 
(fig. 6), which punctuate their encounters to signify not 
only the divisions but also the complicities between public 
and private, social convention and erotic fantasy, honor and 

If history returns, if the betrayal of the Risorgimento is 
Senso's figure for the betrayal of the Resistance in the 1950s, 
then history returns in representation, as an effect of 
signification, a meaning effect — as Verdi's opera returns in 
Visconti's cinema and as Leonora's love returns in Livia's (for 
love, too, is in history and in representation). The distance 
that the film remarks between them, by its excess of 
signification, is in the ironic, self- reflexive consciousness 
that individual and social histories are mutually 
constituted in both contradiction and complicity. But the 
consciousness that can hear Verdi through Bruckner or 
Mahler, and see the insistence of history in representation, 
is itself historical; it belongs to that "certain history" of 
Italian culture, progressive and anti-Fascist, yet skeptical 
and self-reflexive, resistant to the forward-looking 
"democracy" of the 1950s, to simplistic notions of progress, 
to teleological revisions of history. 

Visconti wanted to end the film with Livia's mad 
wanderings and the image of "a little Austrian soldier, very 
young, about sixteen, completely drunk, leaning against a 
wall and singing a victory song. Then he would stop 
singing and cry and cry and cry, shouting "Long live 

/ {Visconti} intended to draw a comprehensive picture of Italian 
history on which was etched the personal story of Countess 
Serpieri. but she herself was. after all, only the representative of 
a particular class. What I wanted to tell was the story of a 
wrong war. that was made by one class and ended in a disaster. 
. . . The young soldier, symbol of those who are paying for the 
victory . . . cries because he is drunk. Or rather, he sings because 
he is drunk, cries because he is a man. and shouts "Long live 
Austria!" on the day of a victory which doesn't serve any 
purpose because Austria will soon be destroyed, just as Franz 
said. . . . In short, the film was to be entitled Custoza and end 
with "Long live Austria'."" 1 

figs. 6. 

As he announced his intention, Visconti recalled, there was 
"a cry of indignation on the part of the producer, the 
Minister, the censor" — the battle of Custoza (see fig. 7) was 
a major Italian defeat, even though, in the end, it was 
Austria that lost the war. However, the producer, minister, 
and censorship were part and parcel of the institution of 
cinema, that is to say, of the film's conditions of possibility. 
The director-artist fought for his vision as well as he could, 
but the film as finally released bears the mark of cinema's 
own history." 

At a time of serious economic crisis the Italian film 
industry was willing to gamble on quality products with 
mass appeal and high production values. Lux film needed 
a box-office success and asked Visconti to bid for a high- 
budget, "spectacular" film of "high artistic level.'" The 
film went through two screenplay versions; the second bore 
the anodyne title Uragano d' estate {Summer rtorm) because 

455 Ten './ ./. / 

Senso was considered too risque, but the latter title was 
subsequently reinstated in the final version, the continuity 
script. Visconti tried to cast Ingrid Bergman and Marlon 
Brando in the lead roles — a sort of "last tango in Venice" 
before the fact, as Bernardo Bertolucci no doubt divined — 
but Bergman was exclusively Rossellini's actress at the 
time, and the producer rejected Brando as not sufficiently 
well known. Lux also demanded two additional sets of cuts, 
one after the editing and another after the dubbing. As a 
result the opening scene on the stage, many of the love 
scenes, and others that contributed motivation and a fuller 
characterization of Livia were reduced. The battle scenes 
were also drastically cut, and a scene in which Italian 
government forces evict Ussoni's Venetian "partisans" (who 
resembled much too closely those of the Resistance, which 
in a 1950s Italy under DC [Democrazia Cristiana/Christian 
Democratic party} rule, neither the producer nor the 
Minister wanted to be reminded of) was omitted 

Even so, and in spite of the film's later success, its 
presentation at the Venice Film Festival "was a scandal," as 
one viewer reported, because the film was considered left- 
wing, because it mentioned the defeat at Custoza, because 
it mixed up the Risorgimento with a love story, because 
not everyone appreciated the operatic aspect of Visconti's 
cinema, and lastly because the Venetian audience was 
offended by the character of Livia. "During the scene in 
which she gives [the patriots' money} to her Austrian 
lover ... a gentleman sitting next to me stood up and 
shouted: 'This is an insult to Venetian women!' ' 7 The 
Golden Lion award, that year, went to Castellani's pretty 
Giulietta e Rotneo (released in English as Romeo and Juliet). 
That was in 1954, of course. But I note as not insignificant 
the fact that Senso was released in the United States only in 

From his directorial debut in 1942 with Ossessione to his 
last great film, Morte a Venezia (1971; released in English as 
Death in Venice), created very much within a pre- 1968 
aesthetic and cultural climate, a dozen or so feature-length 
and short films made Visconti the figure and the measure 
of metamorphosis in Italian cinema. It is not coincidental 
that his two assistant directors in Senso — a film whose 
credits read like a who's who of cinema during the 
period — were Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli: their 
future careers and stylistic choices were to develop from the 
two souls of Visconti's work, history and opera. And the 
influence of his cinema is palpable in some of the most 
interesting film artists of the next generation, such as 
Bertolucci and Liliana Cavani. To them, in an interview in 
La stampa (The press), given a few years before his death in 
1976, Visconti left the task of representing the new world: 

/ have been young myself, when I made La terra trema, 
Ossessione, Senso. . . . Now I'm too old to confront the 
problems of a reality I do not fully know: I am at the age in 
which employees are already retired; I still work, but only 
because working is fun, and because I need it. I think it is for 
the young to tell the story of their time. " 

1. Dedi Baroncelli, Macchine da presa: narrativita, piacere e memoria del 
cinema (Movie cameras: narrativity, pleasure and memory of the 
cinema. Faenza: Edizioni Essegi, 1987), p. 99. This and all other 
quotations from Italian texts are in my translation. 

2. The following are the credits for Senso. Director: Luchino Visconti. 
Screenplay: Luchino Visconti and Suso Cecchi D'Amico, from the 
novella Senso by Camillo Boito, with the collaboration of Carlo 
Aianello, Giorgio Bassani, Giorgio Prosperi, and, for the dialogue, 
Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles. Cast: Alida Valli (Countess Livia 
Serpieri); Farley Granger (Lieutenant Franz Mahler); Massimo Girotti 
(Marquis Roberto Ussoni); Heinz Moog (Count Serpieri); Rina Morelli 
(Laura); Marcella Mariani (the Prostitute); Christian Marquand 
(Bohemian Officer); Sergio Fantoni (Luca); Tonio Selwart (Colonel 
Kleist). Music: Giuseppe Verdi, 11 trovatore, and Anton Bruckner, 
Seventh Symphony (Orchestra Sinfonica della Radiotelevisione Italiana 
directed by Franco Ferrara). Directors of Photography: G. R. Aldo and 
Robert Krasker. Camera Operator: Giuseppe Rotunno. Editor: Mario 
Serandrei. Assistant Directors: Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli. 
Art Directors: Ottavio Scotti and Gino Brosio. Costumes: Marcel 
Escoffier and Pietro Tosi. Make Up: Alberto De'Rossi. Assistants to 
the Director: Aldo Trionfo and Giancarlo Zagni. Sound: Vittorio 
Trentino and Aldo Calpini. Technicolor: John Craig and Neil Binney. 
Producer: Lux Film. Director of Production: Claudio Forges Davanzati. 
Assistant to the Producer: Gina Gulielmotti. Studios: Scalera (Venice) 
and Titanus (Rome). Copyright: Lux Film, Italy, 1954. Premiere: 
Venice, 3 September 1954. Length: 3,250 m. 

3. See Tennessee Williams, cited in Franca Faldini and Goffredo Fofi, 
eds., Lavventurosa storia del cinema italiano raccontata dai suoi 
protagonist! 1935— I9S9 (The adventurous story of Italian cinema, told by 
its protagonists 1935 — 1959. Milan: Feltrinelli, 1979), p. 326. Both 
Granger and Valli spoke their lines in English and were later dubbed 

(p- W)- 

4. Adelio Ferrero, "La parabola di Visconti," in Adelio Ferrero, ed., 
Visconti: 11 cinema (Visconti: Cinema. Modena, 1977), pp. 14—16. 

5. The term was first used, according to Visconti, by Mario Serandrei, 
the editor of Senso, who worked with him from Ossessione in 1942 to 
Vagbe stelle dell'Orsa (Faint stars of the she-bear; released in English as 
Sandra) in 1965. When he received the first takes of Ossessione, 
Serandrei wrote to Visconti in Ferrara: "I don't know how else I could 
define this kind of cinema if not 'neo-realistic.'" Visconti, cited in 
Faldini and Fofi, p. 67. 

6. Fedele D'Amico, "Visconti, regista d'opera," in Mario Sperenzi, ed., 
L'opera di Luchino Visconti (The work of Luchino Visconti. Florence: 
Premio Citta di Fiesole, 1969), pp. 172-73. This is still the most 
thorough evaluation of Visconti's achievement as an opera director 
and, in particular, of his renovation of Italian nineteenth-century 
opera. D'Amico all but suggested that Visconti, in effect, invented the 
role of opera director. 

7. Ferrero, p. 17. 

8. Guido Fink, '"Conosca il sacrifizio . . .': Visconti fra cinema e 
melodramma," in Ferrero, Visconti: 11 cinema, p. 91. 

9. On the development and theorization of Hollywood melodrama as a 
film genre, see Pam Cook, ed., The Cinema Book (London: British Film 
Institute, and New \brk: Pantheon, 1985), pp. 73 — 84. This 
monumental, multiauthored, British critical guide to cinema supports 
my point here: its description of Senso as "a costume picture that offers 
a highly dramatized figuration of personal and class conflict in a 
nineteenth-century Risorgimento setting" (p. 38) makes no mention of 
music or in any way relates the film to the genre of melodrama. Senso 
was released in Great Britain in 1957 as The Wanton Countess. 

10. Bruckner composed his Seventh Symphony in 1883, the year of 
Camillo Boito's Senso and of Richard Wagner's death (in Venice). As 
Michele Lagny pointed out in her admirably thorough critical study of 
the film, Visconti cited fragments of the first two movements, allegro 
moderato and adagio molto lento e maestoso, which "form a sort of 
Requiem," for the first theme was inspired by the death of a friend of 
Bruckner's and the second was composed as a "Funeral Ode to the 
memory of Richard Wagner." See Michele Lagny, Luchino Visconti. 
Senso: Etude critique par Michele Lagny (Luchino Visconti, Senso: 
Critical study by Michele Lagny. Paris: Editions Nathan, 1992), p. 62. 
For my reading of this sequence, I am also indebted to the musical 
expertise of Dale Johnson. 

11. Fink, p. 91. 

456 Cinema 

12. D'Amico, pp. 181 — 82. 

13. As Lagny noted, a dominant iconographic influence in the film is 
provided by the mid-nineteenth-century paintings of Giovanni Fattori 
and Telemaco Signorini, who belonged to the Macchiaioli group, 
especially in the outdoor country scenes by the villa. Also notable are 
the scenes of the battle of Custoza (fig. 7), which can be traced to 
Fattori's // quadrato di Villafranca (The Square of Villa Franca, if not 
directly to his La battaglia di Custoza (The Battle of Custoza). See 
Lagny, pp. 96-97- 

And what is one to make of the fact that the scene of Franz's 
execution was filmed in Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo, the execution site 
of a famous opera character — Mario Cavaradossi, patriot, painter, and 
Tosca's lover in Giacomo Puccini's La Tosca (1900)? The spectator of 
Senso has no way of recognizing the real location, which in the film 
looks every bit like a stage backdrop, and may not know that Visconti 
collaborated on the film La Tosca (1940), which was begun by Jean 
Renoir but finished by Carl Koch. Nonetheless he or she is quite likely 
to read Livia's "murder" of Franz as an off-key replay of Tosca's murder 
of Scarpia and, therefore, to read Livia as a degraded (or, depending on 
the spectator's own ideological location, a more complex or campy or 
even feminist) icon of the prima donna, opera's enduring 
representation of "woman." 

14. Visconti, cited in Faldini and Fofi, pp. 326 — 27. 

15. See Luchino Visconti, Senso, ed. G. B. Cavallaro (Bologna: Cappelli, 
x 977; 1955), a collaborative volume containing, among other 
contributions, Boito's novella, the two screenplays, the final continuity 
script, and the two lists of cuts demanded by the producer, followed 
by Visconti's responses and arguments. In translation, see Luchino 
Visconti, Two Screenplays: La Terra Trema. Senso (New York: Orion 
Press, 1970). 

16. See Fernaldo Di Giammatteo, ed., La controversia Visconti (The 
Visconti controversy. Rome: Studi Monografici di Bianco e nero, 1976), 
p. 27. This volume also includes a complete filmography with the 
credits for each film. 

17. John Francis Lane, cited in Faldini and Fofi, pp. 332 — 33. 

18. Visconti, cited in Faldini and Fofi, p. 403. 

4<r 7c n -.1 di Lauretis 

472. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Lucbhio Visconti's 
Ossessione, 11942. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 71 x $7 cm. Collection of 
Giau Piero Brniietta, Padua. 

473. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Roberto Rosse/lini's Roma 
citta aperta, 194$. Offset lithograph 
on paper. 100 x 70 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

474. Antonio Mancinelli 

Poster for Roberto Rosse/lini's Paisa, 
1946. Offset lithograph on paper, 
140 x 100 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Turin. 

475. Pasqualini 

Poster forVittorio DeSica's Sciuscia, 
1946, reprinted 1948. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 100 x 70 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

476. Rinaldo Geleng 

Poster for Giuseppe De Santis's 
Caccia tragica, 1947. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

477. Ercole Brini 

Poster for Vittorio De Sica's Ladri 
di biciclette, 1948. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 200 x 140 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

478. Averardo Ciriello 

Poster for Luchino Visconti's La terra 
trema, 1948, reprinted 1949. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

479. Carlo Antonio Longhi 
Poster for Pietro Germi's In nome 
della legge, 1949. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 140 x 100 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

480. Averardo Ciriello 

Poster for Alberto Lattnada's II 
mulino del Po, 1949. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

481. Valcarenghi 

Poster for Giuseppe De Santis's 
Riso amaro, 1949, reprinted 1964. 
Offset lithograph on paper, 200 x 
140 cm. Archivio Storico Bolaffi, 








482. Michele Majorana 

Poster for Vittorio De Sica's 
Miracolo a Milano, 1950. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

483. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Luchino Visconti's 
Bellissima, 1951. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 100 x 70 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

484. Nicola Sinbari 

Poster for Alberto Lattnada's II 
cappotto, i9$2. Offset lithograph on 
paper, 140 x 100 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi . ' I uriii. 

485. Dante Manno 

Poster for Roberto Rosse/lini's 
Europa '51, 1952. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 140 x 100 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi. Turin, 

486. Enrico de Seta 

Poster for Federico Fell mi's I 
vitelloni, 19ft Offset lithograph on 
paper, 200 x 140 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, liniii. 


miracolo iwmm 

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Clara Calamai ami Muni mo 
Girotti in Llichino Vision ti's 
Ossessione (Obsession: released in 
English as Ossessione;. 1942. 



Roberto Rossellini's Paisa (Compatriot, 
released in English as Paisarw. 1946. 

in Vittorio De Ska's Ladri di biciclette 
(Bicycle tbie res: released in English as 
both The Bicycle Thief and Bicycle 

Thieves), 1948. 


Anna Magna ni in Lncbino Visconti's 
Bellissima (Very beautiful; released in 
English as Bellissima,), ipfi. 

Rosscil mi's 















La ciociara (The woman from 
Ciociara; released hi English as 
Two Women>. i960. 






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(released in Engl '■ 196}. 

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Pasolini'i II vangelo secondo Macteo 
(released in English as The Gospel 
According to St. Matthew;. 1964. 



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Michelangelo . Blow-up, 



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1 1 

487. Enrico de Seta 

Poster for Federico Fellini's La 
strada, 1954, reprinted iq$S. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 200 x 140 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

488. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Vittorio De Sica's La 
ciociara, i960. Offset lithograph on 
paper, 200 x 140 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Turin. 

489. Giorgio Olivetti 

Poster for Federico Fellini's La 
dolce vita, i960. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 200 x 140 cm. Archil io 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

490. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Litchino Visconti's Rocco 
e i suoi fratelli, i960. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

491. Averardo Ciriello 

Poster for Pietro Germi's Divorzio 
all'italiana, 1961. Offset lithograph 
on paper, 200 x 140 cm. Archivio 
Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 



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O"tito da IMwkJflfCtc *«*©»• . 0*1 p«'«> • 3 r i *■*• fj 

492. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Ermanno Olmi's 11 posto, 
jp<5>. Offset lithograph on paper, 
140 x 100 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Turin. 

493. Ercole Brini 

Poster for Pier Paolo Pasolini's 
Mamma Roma, 1962. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

494. Studio Favalli 

Poster for Francesco Rosi's Salvatore 
Giuliano, 1962. Offset lithograph on 
paper, 140 x 100 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Turin. 

495. Artist Unknown 
Poster for Luchino Visconti's 
II gattopardo, 196}. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 140 x 100 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

496. Artist Unknown 
Poster for Federico Fellini's Otto e 
mezzo, 196}. Offset lithograph on 
paper. 140 x 100 cm. Archivio Storico 
Bolaffi, Turin. 

497. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Michelangelo Antonioni's 
Deserto rosso, 1964. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 200 x 140 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

498. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Pier Paolo Pasolini's 
II vangelo secondo Matteo, 1964. 
Offset lithograph on paper, 200 x 
140 cm. Archivio Storico Bolaffi, 

499. Ercole Brini 

Poster for Michelangelo Antonioni's 
Blow -Up ( 1966). 1967. Offset 
lithograph on paper. 200 x 140 cm. 
Archivio Storico Bolaffi, Turin. 

500. Bob De Seta 

Poster for Pier Paolo Pasolini's 
Edipo re. 1967. Offset lithograph on 
paper, 200 x 140 cm. Aixbivio Storico 
Bolaffi, luriu. 

501. Artist Unknown 

Poster for Michelangelo Antonioni's 
Zabriskie Point. 1970. Offset 
lithograph on paper, 200 x 140 cm. 
Artbivio Storico Bolaffi, latin. 

h 1 

From Haute Couture to 
Pret-d- porter 

Luigi Settembrini 

much conflicting information. (Not least among them is 
the unease, so widespread today, concerning some unsavory 
aspects of the 1980s. This sense of unease — heightened by 
the recent recession and an ensuing state of cultural 
confusion — has soured the flavor of Italy's recent, 
spectacular success.) This will explain, from the outset, 
why a historical review of Italian fashion requires 
something more complex and demanding than a 
comfortable and nostalgic tour of the past. Although 
Italian fashion may be comfortably middle-aged in 
chronological terms, it has, fortunately, by no means 
settled into a state of middle-aged complacency. 

Alongside the simple history of Italian fashion as a 
reflection of and counterpoint to the history and culture of 
Italy, from the end of the war to the watershed year of 1968, 
must be set a series of greater overarching changes that 
span the same period: gradual but fundamental shifts in 
the paradigms of production and consumption and in the 
links between the fashion industry and a modern society 
that was already beginning to ask whether it might not be 
postmodern. Fashion's capacity for reflecting all that 
surrounds it (including fears, desires, yearnings, and 
ambitions) is the distinguishing feature of its profoundly 
superficial nature, its "unbearable lightness." A welter of 
problems, historical and contemporary, Italian and not, 
must be considered in any review of Italian fashion of those 
years, considered in a multidisciplinary manner, making 
matters complex and less than linear, while at the same 
time far more interesting and intriguing. 

These observations lead us promptly to mention a prime 
aspect — perhaps the most pronounced and important — of 
Italian fashion, and indeed of all of Italian culture after the 
fall of Fascism and the end of the war: its rapid 
international integration, the result of Italy's eager 
openness to all that was foreign and new, so long desired 
and finally made possible. In the book Gite a Cbiasso 
(Excursions to Chiasso) Alberto Arbasino took a small 
Swiss city just across the Italian border and turned it into a 
symbol of Italy's desire for new discoveries and contacts 
with Europe and the rest of the world, finally free of the 
filter of propaganda, after so many years of forced isolation. 

In fashion the natural point of reference was not 
Switzerland, of course, but France. Under the Fascists, 
though, an effort was made to develop national fashion, 
driven by the policy of autarchy, by cultural provincialism, 
and by ideological stupidity, an effort that, like so many 
other projects undertaken by the Fascist regime, proved 
wildly overambitious. The monopoly on taste remained 
firmly in the hands of the French. Stylish Italian women of 
the time were able to spot true Parisian fashion just as 
quickly and surely as they could tell the difference between 
real coffee and the undrinkable surrogates of wartime. 

After the war, things changed, in both France and Italy. 
In the space of a few years a number of French 
couturiers — Coco Chanel and Edward Molyneux among 
them — left the scene, and the creations proffered by such 
newcomers as Christian Dior were considered too advanced 
to meet the requirements of the marketplace. There was, 
moreover, no longer the same fruitful contact between 
French fashion designers and the artistic avant-garde that 
had so distinguished the first four decades of the twentieth 
century, beginning with Paul Poiret and continuing with 

484 Fashion 

Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, designers who had 
successfully understood and translated into the medium of 
clothing some of the most important transformations of 
taste and intellect in modern society. 

At \diSZ grandeur — that age-old foible of French culture 
and politics — reasserted itself, engendering commercial 
isolationism and protectionism. The best-known Parisian 
houses were extremely restrictive about allowing their 
creations to be copied and manufactured in more 
"wearable" versions outside of France; this, along with their 
very high prices, chilled relations with their most 
important clients, the buyers for leading American 
department stores. And these same buyers — at first with 
some skepticism, and then with swelling enthusiasm; at 
first in small numbers, and then in crowds — attended the 
first runway presentations of Italian fashion in Florence, 
beginning in 1951. It was these buyers who allowed 
Italian fashion admittance into the highest spheres of 
international elegance. 

The Italians moved with originality, intelligence, and 
admirable promptness to take advantage of this moment 
of weakness in French couture. They were also taking 
advantage of the particular interest and sympathy that 
their country — then just emerging from the ruins of 
war — seemed to spark across the ocean. This favorable 
attitude was fed by the remarkable creations that Italian 
fashion, industrial design, and cinema were then 
producing. These three "new arts" were working in 
close contact with the mass market and with industry, 
although each was marked by sharply differing timing, 
processes, and social and cultural connotations. Each was 
to play a key role in the creation of a new international 
image of a modern Italy, moving beyond the stereotypes 
of a land of love, art, mandolins, sunshine, seashores, 
spaghetti, ruins, the Mafia, and the pressboard suitcases 
of emigrants. 

The birth of modern Italian fashion may be identified 
quite precisely: it took place in Florence, on February 12, 
1951, a Monday, in a handsome villa set in a park just 
behind the venerable medieval city walls. It was here that 
Giovanni Battista Giorgini, a fifty-year-old gentleman 
of aristocratic descent, organized a fashion presentation 
for a number of American and Canadian buyers who 
had been adroitly and specifically lured to Florence 
following their seasonal buying trip to Paris. The runway 
presentation featured the creations of a dozen fashion 
houses and boutiques in Florence, Milan, and Rome: 
Carosa [Giovanna Caracciolo di Avellino Giannetti, see 
cat. no. 512], Mirsa de Gresy, La Tessitrice dell'Isola, 
Alberto Fabiani (see cat. no. 513), Sorelle Fontana [Fontana 
Sisters, see cat. nos. 561- 65], Germana Marucelli (see cat. 
nos. 529-34), Noberasco, Emilio Pucci (see cat. nos. 
538-47), Emilio Schuberth (see cat. nos. 551-55), Vanna, 
Jole Veneziani (see cat. no. 576), and Simonetta Visconti — 
most of whom were virtually unknown at the time. 

Although these names had not yet attained their 
international luster, Italy had long been famous for 
remarkable craftsmanship, a resource about which the 
Parisian fashion houses were perfectly well informed and 
upon which they relied: small manufacturers of silks, 
wools, skins and furs, and straw; workshops for 
embroideries and hat trimmings, whose excellent 

fig. 1. The first fashion show in the Sala 
Bianca, July 1952, photographed by 
Dai id Lees. 

is-, / .-,.•. 1 Settembrini 

fig. 2. Dress by Roberto Capucci. 19$2. 

fig. }. Giovanni Battista Giorgini with 
sugar miniature of Palazzo Vecchio, 
photographed by Locchi at the Grand 
Hotel. Florence, January 24, 195}. 

workmanship ended up anonymously in the creations of 
French fashion. The war had done no substantive damage 
to this patrimony. 

There was also a long-lived tradition of dressmakers and 
pattern makers, both Italian and of Italian descent, many of 
whom were employed by the houses of Paris, both before 
and after the war (among them was Cesare Guidi, who, as a 
forerunner of Gianfranco Ferre, designed collections for 
Dior in 1946). The tradition was well known in the United 
States, where, some of the leading dressmakers in New 
York bore such names as Blotta, Casella, and D'Andrea. 
And the talent of Italian costume makers had been 
appreciated in Hollywood for quite some time. But none of 
this activity, which belonged to a premodern notion of 
production and image, could rightly be said to constitute a 
bonafide fashion industry. 

There were also a few individual, isolated cases, 
involving limited volume in terms of production and sales, 
that pointed to future success but were too small to 
constitute a new international trend. Pucci is a prime 
example. After the war, decorated with the numerous 
medals he had won as an officer in the Italian air force, 
Pucci — a debt-ridden Florentine marquis — had begun to 
produce (with the help of craftsmen from Capri) a line of 
brightly colored outfits and sandals for some of his women 
friends, practically as a pastime. In a 1948 feature on St. 
Moritz, Harper's Bazaar favorably described the elegant cut 
and the comfort of his clothing, especially his skiwear 
made of elastic fabrics. Enveloped in an aura of aristocracy 
and high society, Pucci's creations made their way to 
Fifth Avenue in New York, to the display windows of 
Lord & Taylor. But it was not until the late 1950s and the 
1960s, when Pucci and his resortwear attained their apex, 
that the genuine fashion genius of the marquis-dressmaker 
was to become evident. Another Italian designer who 
enjoyed early notice was Salvatore Ferragamo (see cat. 
nos. 577—602), who, in 1947, won the prestigious Neiman 
Marcus award, America's fashion Oscar. 

The creations presented in Florence that Monday in 
February, at what was billed as the first "Italian High 
Fashion Show," still owed a great deal to Parisian 
fashion, as was to be expected. The Italian offerings stood 
out, however, for their greater simplicity and their 
sophisticated use of color and attention to decorative 
details. Moreover, their cost was less than half that of their 
French counterparts, a fact not lost on the buyers in 
attendance. The young Italian fashion houses had received 
market-oriented advice from Giorgini (who was very 
familiar with the United States, as he had long worked 
as a commissionaire, or buyer, for a number of major 
American department stores). Giorgini emphasized the 
importance of such features as wearability, practicality, 
and simplicity of cut, ideas that were particularly 
welcomed by American buyers and apparel manufacturers. 
The same qualities could be found, in even more 
pronounced terms, in the boutique collections that 
accompanied the high-fashion showings. Knitwear, casual 
wear, and sportswear; beachwear and leisure wear; 
raincoats, accessories, and costume jewelry were all offered 
in versions that were more appropriate to everyday elegance 
and the sensibilities of modern women, especially 
American women, who were understood as active and 

486 Fashion 

working. It is these collections that represent a truly new 
departure in the understanding of fashion and of how 
women dress. 

The boutique collections did the most to differentiate 
the Florentine shows from their Parisian equivalents: they 
provided a venue for the unfettered expression of fanciful 
shapes and colors, the inclusion in a humorous and 
irreverent vein of the boundless resources of Italy's history 
of art and folklore, the surprising juxtaposition of a wide 
array of diverse fabrics, from the plainest to the most 
exquisite. The boutique collections were forums for freer 
experimentation, in terms of materials and in terms of 
production and cut. It was in the boutique presentations 
that such prestigious labels as Laura Aponte, Avagolf, 
Avolio, Avon Celli, Le Sorelle del Mare, Eliglau, Glans, 
Mirsa, Myricae, Naka, and Valditevere made their 
reputations. And it was in the boutique collections of the 
1950s that Franco Bertoli presented skirts made of ribbon, 
elasticized straw, and flounces painted with seventeenth- 
century landscapes; Roberta di Camerino showed trompe- 
l'oeil effects on cottons and twills; and Giuliano Fratti 
showed earrings made of raffia and colored stones. It was 
here, moreover, in the 1960s, that Pucci presented his 
coordinated gear, his shirt outfits and wrinkle-proof 
"Emilioform capsules," his outfits made of jersey that 
weighed only ounces. It was here that Ken Scott (see cat. 
nos. 556—60) showed Pop-art fabrics (with their designs of 
spectacularly enlarged noodles, vegetables, and fruit) and 
that Missoni (see cat. nos. 535—37), soon followed by Krizia 
[Mariuccia Mandelli, see cat. nos. 521 — 24}, showed 
remarkable jersey sweaters and coordinated outfits. 

During the 1950s a great many of the haute-couture 
(high fashion, or alta moda in Italian) designers (Biki, 
Giovannelli, Marucelli, and Veneziani in 1951; Fabiani and 
Simonetta in 1955; and Maria Antonelli in 1956) designed 
and produced their own boutique collections, more 
versatile and sprightly, and far more affordable than their 
haute-couture lines. This duality between haute couture 
and boutique provoked a great deal of discussion and 
debate, but the development was inevitable: mass 
production clearly became, from the end of the decade 
onward, the only practical direction in which to move, as 
the costs of manufacturing for a narrow elite rose higher 
and higher. This was clear, for example, to Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani, see cat. nos. 566—75], perhaps the 
greatest couturier of the new generation. Valentino would 
remain closely tied to the image and allure of haute 
couture, and yet he was successful in distilling this image 
perfectly into pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear) as well. This 
was probably the true hallmark of his production from the 
very beginning. In 1967, while he was inaugurating his new 
atelier on via Gregoriana, in Rome, he also opened an 
American-style boutique, inside the Milanese department 
store La Rinascente, setting an example that was quickly 
followed by others who, like him, intended to expand their 
markets and find new customers. When we look back on 
these boutique collections, we can say that they were soon 
to serve as a springboard for the coming boom in pret-a- 
porter in the later 1960s and the 1970s, a boom that was to 
mark the definitive obsolescence of a nineteenth-century 
idea of fashion and inaugurate a new chapter in the history 
of clothing and style. 

Giorgini's insistence on the Italian nature of the 
creations being presented in Florence — an insistence that 
was dutifully repeated by the international press — did 
nothing to undercut the general surge of excitement and 
enthusiasm about the rest of the world that was sweeping 
Italy. The pressing issue in fashion, however, was not so 
much to deny the vital influence of the French, which 
could hardly be questioned, but to cater to the huge 
American market. The idea was to position Italian fashion 
as the modern expression of an aesthetic taste well trained 
in the natural elegance of line, in the harmony between 
shape and concrete function, in an expressive use of color, 
and in an inventive relationship with materials. These were 
all qualities that Italian fashion clearly shared with 
industrial design in those years, as can be seen in the first 
products to emerge from that field in the postwar period: 
automobiles, scooters, typewriters, furniture, and other 
design objects of all sorts. 

Is it possible to understand these qualities in 
anthropological and cultural terms? Is it possible to define 
Italian fashion and design in terms of an eclectic mindset: 
an ability to reconcile the vast and conflicting artistic 
patrimony; an attention to the corporeal and to individual 
expression; a gift for improvisation; a particular hard-eyed 
and sardonic streak of realism; and so on? Perhaps. The 
risk of this sort of reasoning, however, is the perpetuation 
of stereotypes. It is more important, then, to note the taste 
and openness with which the references to Italianness in 
the fashion collections presented in Florence in 1951 were 
employed and positioned, to salute the recognition on the 
participants' parts that they were engaged in creating 
something original, something that would come to be 
known as real "Italian style." 

The second Florentine runway presentation, in July 1951, 
reaffirmed the general air of expectation. Although 
this second event featured only a few more names than 
the first one, the audience of buyers and journalists was 
quite large. (A noteworthy absence among designers 
represented was the nineteen-year-old Roberto Capucci 
{see cat. nos. 502-11}, excluded because of petty last- 
minute rivalries, although he was allowed to present his 
collection during a special evening event, and to 
spectacular acclaim.) In addition to the American network 
of clothing marketers, who by 1952 would be attending in 
full force, the leading French and Italian newspapers sent 
reporters, as did Life and The Los Angeles Times; also present 
were two prestigious fashion journalists, Bettina Ballard 
from Vogue and Carmel Snow from Harper's Bazaar. In its 
headline Life took the view that "Italy Challenges France," 
while Pc/ris-Presse acknowledged, with concern, "the 
Italian offensive [has been} implemented with skill and .1 
fine sense of psychology. This is a time when the 
Americans are unwilling to tolerate the maneuvers ol Dior 
and [Jacques} Fath: the American market is at stake, and 
losing it would be .1 latal blow." 

The tale that Italian fashion told ot itself during those 
years had a Florentine sitting, and the intention ot the 
promoters of the event was ( liar to emphasize the great 
past that is the ultimate source ot modern Italian fashion. 
The locations tor the photoshoots staged by the press 
tended to reiterate this idea. lor the most part tin \ \\i n 
painterly in inspiration, or else followed the styles ot 

487 Luigi Settembrini 

fig. 4. Emilio Schuberth and models, 
photographed by David Lees in 19$}. 

fig, 5. Gown by Emtlio Schuberth, 
photographed by Regtna Relang in r?s3- 

fig. 6. Dress by Carosa, photographed by 
Gerard Herter in January 19^4. 

photojournalism, borrowing very little from the formal 
qualities of avant-garde photography. As for the shows 
themselves, beginning in 1952 (and continuing until 1973) 
they were moved to the Sala Bianca, a mirror-lined 
ballroom filled with neoclassical stuccoes and immense 
crystal chandeliers inside Palazzo Pitti, which over time 
became a sort of factory seal for genuine Italian fashion. 
Palazzo Strozzi, another jewel of Florentine architecture, 
came to be a second link in the chain, serving as the center 
for the dressmakers' showrooms during the presentations. 

The same historicizing tendency marked the many social 
events and receptions that were held in the Boboli Gardens 
or in villas in the hills around Florence. One costume party 
held at Palazzo Vecchio in 1953 actually took the form of a 
historical reenactment of the wedding of Eleonora de' 
Medici and Vincenzo Gonzaga. 

The presence of a great many aristocrats on the Italian 
fashion scene of the time strengthened the ties to Italy's 
grand past. Aside from Pucci, the fashion crowd included 
Carosa (the princess of Carosa); Irene Galitzine (see cat. 
nos. 518—20), a princess of Russian descent; Mirsa, who was 
the Marquise Olga de Gresy; Simonetta (the daughter of a 
duke and the wife of a count); and many other aristocrats, 
not to mention the many runway models, young and 
willowy women from the finest Italian families, among 
them Marella Caracciolo (now Marella Agnelli) and Gioia 
Marconi. It was as a runway model, in fact, that "La 
Galitzine" began her career. 

Giorgini cannily emphasized the snob appeal that the 
noble ties possessed, especially in America, and in 1956 he 
organized a promotional tour to New York: eight 
countesses, in the dual role of ambassadors and runway 
models, presented creations by Antonelli, Capucci, Carosa, 
Fabiani, Marucelli, Schuberth, Simonetta, and Veneziani; 
the presentation was broadcast by NBC. The critical 
acclaim was tremendous — perhaps most important, the 
tour garnered favorable comments from Diana Vreeland, 
the powerful fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar. (In the next 
decade, Giorgini would become a prisoner of the image he 
created. The radical transitions of the 1960s were to throw 
into crisis the entire network of elitist cultural and social 
points of reference upon which the Italian fashion system 
had been based until then.) 

Closely interwoven with this aristocratic connotation, 
but even more effective in making Italian fashion 
fashionable, were the movies. Films allowed Italy and the 
United States to undertake an intense and reciprocal 
exchange of mythologies during the 1950s. If, in this trade, 
Italy was importing the practical everyday luxury item 
called the 'American way of life," at the same time Italy 
was exporting to the United States an updated and 
revivified image of Italy, of the Italians, and of their 
magnificent heritage — an image that was warm, romantic, 
and lively. 

Film, more than any other medium, helped to engender 
an aura of sympathy around Italy and things Italian, 
especially during the early 1950s — an image-driven sense 
of solidarity, a feeling that was at once humble and 
international. This miracle of mythmaking, however, was 
not the creation of the great Italian neorealist cinema of the 
time — a school of filmmaking that is still loved by 
cinephiles the world over but that shows aspects of Italy 

4X8 Fashion 

that most Italians would just as soon forget. Rather it was 
American films — touristy and sentimental, shot in the 
most entrancing piazzas and streets of Capri, Florence, 
Naples, Rome, Sorrento, and Venice — that launched a 
formidable promotional campaign on Italy's behalf, though 
with unlikely stories and highly fictive characters. September 
Affair (1950, with Joseph Cotten and Joan Fontaine), Roman 
Holiday (1953, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck), 
and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954, with Clifton Webb, 
Louis Jordan, Jean Peters, Dorothy McGuire, and Rossano 
Brazzi, an unfailing fixture in those years in the cardboard 
role of the Latin lover) were just trailblazers for the 
mountains of footage that, in the years to come, purveyed 
to viewers worldwide an image of Italy as an enchanting, 
carefree, cheerful land, full of high culture, good feelings, 
and simplicity. All the things, perhaps, that Italy is not. 

During these same years, Clare Boothe Luce — wife of 
Henry Luce, founder and owner of Time, Life, and 
Fortune — was the American Ambassador to Italy. 
Intelligent, accomplished, and ambitious, she was perfectly 
aware of the true state of things in Italy; she also clearly 
understood that it was best to heavily retouch that reality. 
No more bicycle thieves but elegant Roman princes 
instead: these were the years of the Marshall Plan, and 
Italy, in order to provide the required economic returns on 
that huge international investment, had to be repositioned. 
Ambassador Luce certainly played a major role in that 
process. Italy, therefore, contrary to all expectations, 
suddenly found itself to be "in fashion." 

This was the golden age of Cinecitta, the Holly wood-on- 
the-Tiber, where major American studios often found they 
could produce films cheaply. American actors and actresses 
swarmed throughout Italy, and the most important Italian 
haute-couture ateliers, especially those in Rome, generated 
publicity for themselves by dressing the most famous 
Italian and American stars, on and off the set. The Fontana 
sisters, Giovanna, Micol, and Zoe — Sorelle Fontana, as 
they were known — began in 1949 by designing the clothes 
for the wedding of Linda Christian and Tyrone Power; in 
1954 they designed Ava Gardner's costumes for The Barefoot 
Contessa. Later, Italian dressmakers did work for the 
American star Myrna Loy and for the British actresses 
Phyllis Calvert, Peggy Cummins, and Merle Oberon, as 
well as many other stars, who were often photographed 
while being fitted in the ateliers. Several Italian stars who 
gained formidable reputations in the United States — 
among them Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, and Alida 
Valli — also formed part of the procession (the first two 
were dressed by Schuberth). 

Fashion itself began to influence film: a pair of famous 
runway models, Lucia Bose and Elsa Martinelli, made it big 
as actresses. Fashion, politics, and celebrity mingled just as 
freely: in 1953 Schuberth created thirty outfits for Soraya, 
the young and beautiful empress of Persia, and Sorelle 
Fontana designed Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding dress for 
her marriage to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. (When, in 1968, 
she married Aristotle Onassis, it was Valentino's turn to 
dress the world's most famous woman.) The trade press 
recognized a good story when it heard it, and the paparazzi 
of the mass-market Italian photo weeklies were busy taking 
shots of the fairy-tale lives of high society. In the pages of 
these weeklies, the various aristocracies — of film, of money 

fig. 7. Emilio Plica and model in front of 
Palazzo Pucci. photographed by David Lees 
in 1954. 

fig. 8. Outfit by Emilio Pucci, photographed 
by Scrimali in 1954 

(S') /..',,■; : Settembrini 

and power, and of actual nobility — were shown in an 
unending round of parties, travel, and love stories, and 
living in their villas with huge pools. Federico Fellini's film 
La dolce vita (The sweet life, i960; released in English as La 
Dolce Vita) portrayed this world when it was already clearly 
on the wane. 

A different sort of alliance, far less glamorous but more 
enduring than that between fashion and film, emerged in 
the 1950s between fashion and industry, both those 
industries driven by traditional crafts and those with a 
more modern structure. As early as the late 1940s, Snia 
Viscosa, Europe's largest manufacturer of artificial textile 
fibers, had initiated its policy of paying closer attention to 
the creative process of fashion, and in 1950 the company 
hired Marucelli, the dressmaker, as a consultant. The new 
fibers (with patently artificial names like rhodianzino, 
wollena, daynolegler, and lilion) were to constitute 
throughout the 1950s a new frontier for experimentation in 
shape and texture for Italian dressmakers. This became 
even more the case in the subsequent decade, as the market 
for fashion expanded, and the mythology of technological 
progress and competition between the United States and 
the Soviet Union in the space race caught the imagination 
of the public. 

Along with the more traditional materials (the silks of 
the Como region, the linens and wools of Biella and Prato, 
and the cottons of the Val di Susa, all of which were 
continuously reinvented through blends, colors, prints, and 
finishes that could make them soft or rustic, playful or 
deadly serious, practical or sumptuous, depending on the 
outfit and the requirements of the market), Italian fabrics 
were immediately recognized as being among the world's 
finest, and they were to contribute to the international 
success of Italian style. 

"Made in Italy" would come to represent a new fashion 
system with a vertical integration that included research, 
the production of threads, yarns, and fabric, and finished 
garments and accessories. This system encompasses an 
array of large manufacturers along with an extremely 
intricate network of small and mid-size companies, 
arranged in specific and homogeneous territorial sectors, 
thus attaining great flexibility for production and a 
capacity for innovation. At the end of the 1950s, however, 
this system was still in its infancy. During those years, the 
fashion paradigm was still haute couture, a form of fashion 
imposed from on high and patterned on elevated models of 
society, rather than brought up from below, from street 
culture, rock and roll, and, with time, from the world of 
sports and consumer technology, as was the case from the 
second half of the 1960s onward. This was a notion of 
fashion that, strictly divided into lines, colors, fabrics, 
decorations, had an equally strict view of how, when, and 
by whom particular types of clothing were to be worn. 
fashion was divided by class, sex, age, social occasions, the 
requirements of work, free time, holidays, and sport. This 
was ( ertainly not the casual, taboo-breaking fashion of 
today (a c hange that is a product of the long-term shifts 

;i nder< d by the radical social transformations of those 
yens), where the distinctions between formal and casual 
wear, between menswearand womenswear, between the 
way the old and the young dress, are subtle and at times 
nonexistent. This was an understanding of fashion, finally, 

that tended to see in the dressmaker and in the creations of 
the dressmaker an artist more than a designer and to value 
the creation more than the design. 

The decline of the social and cultural framework that 
engendered haute couture, and the emergence of another 
that lent itself to pret-a-porter, made this period one of 
confusion but also of vitality and ferment. This was the 
time of Italy's economic miracle; Italy was modernizing 
both socially and culturally, and many Italians finally and 
truly savored the fruit of the new opulent society. 

Alhough the newly democratic modes of consumption 
for the most part took the form of faddish consumerism at 
its heady worst, everyday clothing emerged that served 
more as confirmations of status than as utilitarian tools. 
Dolce vita was not just a term for a carefree Italy that had 
suddenly discovered she was rich; it was also the Italian 
word, dolcevita, for turtleneck sweaters, which could be 
worn with a blazer in an elegant, casual manner that had 
already become a trademark of Italian style. This look was 
an expression of the subterranean current of informality 
that wends through all modern and contemporary fashion. 

Italian fashion made its way through this crucial season 
in the history of the nation with the added cachet of a well- 
consolidated international reputation, reflected in 
noteworthy economic results: by 1958 Italy had already 
overtaken France and England as the leading European 
exporter to the United States of textiles, apparel, and 
accessories; exports of women's clothing rose from 45 
million articles in 1950 to 2 billion articles in 1957; shoes 
rose from 208 million in 1950 to nearly 19 billion in 1957; 
and in the same seven-year period, exports of woolen and 
silk fabrics rose five-fold, exports of knitwear rose eight- 
fold, and exports of knit outerwear rose sixteen-fold. 

Giorgini's farsighted vision of Italian fashion was as a 
coherent, well-articulated phenomenon, aware of its own 
identity and ancient traditions. The runway presentations 
in Florence had, from their beginnings, been collective 
efforts, so that all of the dressmakers would show — in the 
same location and on the same day — a representative 
selection of their creations. (A more complete and thorough 
showing was available later in the various showrooms.) 
This approach was greatly appreciated by buyers and 
journalists, for they no longer had to rush from one atelier 
to the next, as was the case in Paris. More important, it 
allowed them to grasp at a glance the emerging directions 
and the quality of the various collections. 

If a single runway helped to heighten the excitement of a 
newborn movement in search of an original language in 
which to express itself, it also entailed an excessively direct 
comparison, specific criteria for the order of appearance of 
collections and fashion houses, a considerable reduction in 
the number of creations presented (a maximum of sixty for 
haute couture, fifteen to twenty for boutique fashion), and 
great rivalry for the starring role among the individual 
designers. As a result, there were soon betrayals and 

As early as the late 1950s Rome began competing with 
Florence for the role of primary showcase for Italian haute 
couture. One of the advantages Rome boasted was the close 
relationship between its ateliers and the aristocratic high 
society of the city, as well as the film crowds and the 
cosmopolitan glamour that these social circles emanated. 

490 Fashion 

The dressmakers of Rome organized their own runway 
shows, and these became an alternative venue to the 
runway presentations of Florence. Milan and Turin, 
boasting closer ties to the manufacturing infrastructure, 
also presented their candidacies to replace Florence. 
Iruai4 SAMIA (Salone Mercato Internazionale 
Abtiigliamento/International Market Clothing Salon), 
an apparel trade show, was instituted in Turin, and lasted 
until 1969; in 1956 MITAM (Mostra Internazionale Tessile 
Abbigliamento/Arredamento Milano/International 
Textile, Clothing Furnishings Exhibition, Milan) was 
inaugurated in Milan, and became the leading meeting 
place in Europe for many years thereafter. 

Strengthening Milan's position was the fact that the 
weekly magazine Nor/ta (which became Vogue Italic/ in 
1966) was published there; the magazine paid close 
attention to the formal aesthetics and the construction of 
clothing, and tended to present fashion as a phenomenon of 
cultural behavior; it still paid respect to the French, often 
recognizing France's superiority in research and 
experimentation. The editorial line of the other leading 
fashion magazine in Italy during this period, Bellezza 
(Beauty), was radically different, taking fashion as a luxury 
item, profoundly Italian and full of exquisite artifice, a fairy 
tale featuring noblewomen and famous actresses. It is no 
coincidence that this magazine was published in Rome. 

Paris, after emerging from its initial postwar confusion 
and regaining momentum, first with Dior and then — 
crucially — with Cristobal Balenciaga and Pierre Balmain, 
began to lure famous designers away from Italy (Capucci 
left in 1962), reaffirming the venerable Parisian leadership 
precisely through the city's traditional aptitude at adopting 
as its own the finest talents in the world, wherever they 
might arise, a skill in which neither Florence nor Italy has 
been able to excel over the past few centuries. 

Nevertheless, despite the quarrels, the small-minded 
rivalries, and the profusion of fairs and events, which 
distracted and confused the foreign fashion press, along 
with the manifold efforts to found associations and 
national coordinating organizations that might attain the 
same level of prestige as their French forerunners, the 
capital of Italian fashion remained solidly based in 
Florence. And the locus of Florentine fashion was, at 
least until 1965, when Giorgini left its helm, the Sala 
Bianca. This event was to introduce such names as 
Balestra, Baratta, Rocco Barocco, Biki, Roberta da 
Camerino Falconetto, Patrick de Barentzen, Federico 
Forquet (see cat. nos. 515-17), Galitzine, Krizia, Pino 
Lancetti (see cat. nos. 525-28), Missoni, Mila Schon (see 
cat. nos. 549, 550), Scott, and Valentino, who made his 
debut in 1959 (as a beginner, he was forced to show on the 
last day, but he still received considerable attention, and 
sold all his creations). 

The Sala Bianca was the setting for the premieres of a 
great number of stylistic innovations. Nineteen fifty-seven 
witnessed, Marucelli's Pannocchia (Corncob) line, 
Simonetta's Palloncino {Balloon) line, and Schuberth's 
Convertible {Convertible) outfits. That same year Puce is 
Pal/o collection was presented (see cat. no. 538), 
demonstrating once again the designer's level ot mastery 
of printed silk and fabrics printed in Mediterranean colors, 
such as geranium red, Emilio pink, and Capri blue. Later 

fig. p. Gowns by Emilio Schuberth and 
Jole Veneziani. photographed b) 
Fatigati at Osterlj Park, London. 1956. 

fig. 10. Ava Gardner wearing a Sorelle 
Fontana dress, w\(>. Archivio Sorelh 

Font J ILL 

491 Luigi Setu ». 

fig. ii. Dress by Carosa, photographed 
by Regina Relang in Florence, 1959. 

fig. 12. Roberto Capucci and model, 
photographed by Locchi in i960. 

years saw a parade of influential innovations: Capucci's 
Scatola (Box) line (see cat. no. 507) in 1958; the palazzo 
pajama by Galitzine (see cat. nos. 518 — 20) in i960; 
Lancetti's Militare {Military) line in 1963; and Valentino's 
Collezione bianca (White Collection), twenty-five all-white 
outfits dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy, in 1967. 

In i960 the "Italian High Fashion Shows" of Florence 
were renamed the "Italian Fashion Showing" as part of an 
ongoing effort to reduce the emphasis on haute couture. 
Throughout the preceding decade new sections had been 
added to the event: in 1952 fabrics for and collections of 
men's fashion were presented, followed in 1954 by children's 
clothing, in 1955 by furs, and in 1956 by a number of 
collections of pret-a-porter. In 1962 fashion for teenagers 
was presented, as was women's underwear, designed by 
Galitzine. Haute couture, however, was still at the center of 
the organizers' concerns, and, in general, at the heart of the 
entire system of thought about style of the time. 

Haute couture remained a central stylistic point of 
reference, at least until the second half of the decade, for 
the large manufacturing concerns. This was a major factor 
in holding back experimentation and the creation of a style 
proper to pret-a-porter that might go beyond the canons of 
codified elegance; thus the apparel industry of the time 
missed its opportunity to satisfy a sensibility that even 
then was breaking free from haute couture, that was, in 
fact, waging an open rebellion against all the conservative 
values that haute couture embodies. 

Giorgini — and with him the majority of Italian 
dressmakers — sensed that haute couture, at least as they 
had always known it, was doomed. Giorgini, however, 
could not refrain from thinking of haute couture as the sole 
authentic laboratory for creativity, which was linked 
unfailingly to an artistic and crafts background, to a 
rhetoric of Renaissance values, to an aristocracy of 
invention with its roots sunk deeply and unmistakably in 
the idealism of the nineteenth century: a sort of 
Promethean forge where ideas were formed at white heat, 
then cooled gradually until they attained final solidity in 
the manufactured apparel. 

Giorgini and the dressmakers of the old generation were 
missing an important point: that pret-a-porter could very 
well become a Promethean workshop, where fashion design 
took on all the full creative dignity of the old process, and 
where the act of creation was filtered through the various 
steps of industrial manufacturing, while maintaining close 
contact with the market in order to meet the demands of 
the final retail customer. 

Once the powerful and vehement antifashion sentiments 
of the 1960s and 1970s had been overcome — sentiments 
that were part of the new sensibility and the moralizing 
opposition to consumerism that in time became a style of 
its own (a phase that followed the feverish consumption of 
all that was new in the boom years) — the new awareness of 
pret-a-porter as a legitimate field of endeavor began to 
emerge. Once they were filtered through the diffuse 
creativity of the Italian fashion system, and through the 
personal interpretation of intelligent individual designers, 
from the second hah of the 1970s onward, many of the 
themes developed by the antifashion trend themselves 
became factors in the success of that phenomenon known 
as "Made in Italy." 



The social revolution that took place in the late 1960s 
amounted to a death sentence for the old concept of 
fashion. A new understanding of the human body and its 
primary symbolic function, along with the creative aspects 
of consumption, were perhaps the two most important 
conceptual components generated in the late 1960s. 
Fashion became contemporary art (an aspect of design or a 
personalized expression of the human body and of the 
behavior of the individual, the communication of a style of 
life, through the medium of clothing) at the point where 
art and fashion revealed their similarities and their sell- 
awareness. Among these was the inevitable character of 
marketing that attached itself to every aesthetic creation, a 
process that marked both the moment of creation and 
conception and that of reception, while rendering obsolete 
all traditional idealistic and romantic constructions. 

In 1936 the critic Walter Benjamin posed a fundamental 
question as to whether the invention of photography had 
changed the overall nature of art. We may pose just such a 
question about the relationship between fashion 
(considered as an applied, "lesser" art) and art in the age of 
mechanical reproduction, in a time of mass production. 
But thoughts of this sort were certainly not expressed in 
the 1960s; such a way of looking at fashion has emerged 
only gradually, in recent years, when we have begun to 
question the idea of fashion as being defined as the designer 
and the label that the fashion designer imposes — with an 
egocentric and increasingly self-referential attitude — on 
the personal stylistic development pursued by consumers. 

Greater critical awareness about fashion was shown from 
the mid-1960s onward by Italy's school of "radical design," 
which considered the industrial designer to be a slave to 
styling as a function of the production/consumption cycle. 
In its theories, it captured the cognitive and creative 
aspects that consumption and consumer objects have taken 
on in advanced capitalist society. These are the foundations 
of postmodern thought. 

With respect to this theoretical awareness, it would be 
relatively pointless, as well as quite difficult, to trace the 
more profound artistic influences on individual designers in 
the recent history of Italian fashion, under the superficial 
overlay of various borrowings, or to indicate some of the 
working relationships between certain Italian designers and 
artists during the 1950s and 1960s. And yet these 
relationships — although they tended to be sporadic and to 
remain limited to the decorative aspects of clothing, thus 
remaining outside the bounds of the central design 
process — did exist. 

The Milanese designer Marucelli (a fairly unusual 
character in the panorama of Italian fashion, considering 
that her atelier-qua-drawing room was frequented by such 
writers, artists, and architects as Eugenio Montale, 
Giuseppe Ungaretti, Gio Ponti, Felice Casorati, Massimo 
Campigli, and Lucio Fontana) was perhaps one of the 
most active supporters of an interdisciplinary relationship 
between fashion and art. In 1948 she worked with 
Piero Zuffi, a painter and set designer (who applied 
patently Surrealist designs to the fabrics used in clothing 
designed by Marucelli); she went on to work with 
Giuseppe Capogrossi and Paolo Scheggi. In i960 she took 
inspiration for her Vescovi (Bishops) line from the sculptures 
of Giacomo Manzu, and then in 1965 she worked with 

fig. 13. Elizabeth Taylor wearing a 
Sorelle Fontana dress in 1961. 

fig. 14. Two-piece suit by Simonetta 
Visconti. photographed by Regina Relang 
in 1961. 

49 \ Luigi Siltimhrini 

Getulio Alviani, one of the better-known kinetic artists, 
on the fabrics for the Optical line (vertical and horizontal 
motifs alternating with spirals, patterns repeated in 
accessories and stockings); in 1968 came the Alluminio 
(Aluminum) line, with its hybrid of the soft surfaces of 
wools and the rigidity of large metal rings (see cat. nos. 533, 
534). Marucelli took ideas from classical art as well: 
the Fraticello (Little monk) line in 1954 openly declared its 
sources — the palettes of Masaccio, Fra Angelico, and 
Paolo Uccello. 

Capucci merits separate consideration. The young 
designer played with a number of different references: 
Marcel Duchamp, Futurism, Rationalism, English Pop. 
In Capucci's work fashion design becomes increasingly 
abstract, and clothing becomes sculptural, made to be set 
in a certain environment. 

During the 1960s the general climate of experimentation 
and hybridization among the widest range of languages 
encouraged greater contact and exchange between art 
and fashion. Fashion designers chiefly chose to view this 
in terms of citations: in addition to Marucelli, we 
should consider the work of Schon (with the geometric 
abstractions of the 1966 collection and the slashed material, 
based on Fontana's cuts, in the 1968 collection); the work of 
Pucci, featuring "psychedelic" colors; that of Krizia, with 
Pop decorations worked into the knitwear; and of course 
the metal and plastic clothing made by Barocco, Centinaro, 
and Lancetti. Among the rare cases of concrete interest in 
fashion on the part of artists and industrial designers, we 
could mention the ideas for hairstyles and jewelry 
conceived by Enrico Castellani, Arnaldo Pomodoro, 
and Ettore Sottsass, Jr., as well as the "opera outifts" that 
Jannis Kounellis was to create in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Beginning in the second half of the 1960s, in the wake of 
a more mature relationship with fashion and with modern 
design culture and the culture of urban planning that 
contributed so much to the success of Italian fashion, 
Milan began to boast star status as a fashion capital, where 
designers such as Giorgio Armani, Ferre, and Gianni 
Versace began to establish their reputations; throughout 
the 1980s Milan was to be the city that symbolized Italian 
fashion. In the 1990s, with the return of a slightly less hard- 
edged approach to fashion and greater attention to the 
overall quality of life — but also thanks to a more 
aggressive and modern policy of image-building on the 
part of the Florentine fashion shows — a certain amount of 
interest has shifted to Florence and to the enormous, 
perhaps unique potential for prestige and spectacle that 
Florence can offer the Italian fashion industry as it looks 
toward the future. 

It is inevitable, and a clear sign of vitality, that a 
historical review of twenty-five years of Italian fashion 
should be closely interwoven with more current and more 
general issues. After the spectacular successes of the 1970s 
and the 1980s Italian fashion now has a more critical view 
ot itself. There are a great many different reasons for this 
attitude, stemming from factors inherent to fashion but 
also from fa< tors separate from fashion: economic and 
< ultural fa< tors, spe< ifi( national factors and others that are 
global. The impression that one comes away with is that in 
tli 1990s, just as 111 the 1960s, we are confronted with a 
deep ited shift — in the methods of production of 

fashion, and in the ways in which we consume and conceive 
of fashion — the shape and nature of which are not yet 
entirely clear. 

The openness to the world, the cultural flexibility and 
the manufacturing flexibility of the Italian fashion system, 
and the integrated and widespread support that it offers to 
the individual creativity of Italian and non-Italian 
designers who work with this system, are the vital qualities 
that Italy can still offer in the cardgame of international 
fashion and fashion design as it promises to be played 
during this wide-open end of the century. 

Translated, from the Italian, by Antony Shugaar. 

494 Fashion 

Italian Fashion and 

Valerie Steele 

Italian fashion's chic image is so powerful today that it may 
come as a surprise to realize how recently it acquired a high 
international profile. It was only in the late 1970s that the 
Italian fashion system, based in Milan, produced superstars 
like Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace. So apparently 
insignificant was the Italian fashion presence prior to this 
time that many histories of modern fashion do not mention 
Italy at all, or make only passing references to a few 
designers, such as Roberto Capucci and Emilio Pucci.' Even 
Italian scholars, concerned with distinguishing between 
clothes that were merely "made in Italy" and those that 
exemplify "the Italian look," sometimes question whether 
we can legitimately speak of Italian fashion before the 
1970s. : It is appropriate to reevaluate this judgment because 
it is now clear that Italian fashion in the immediate postwar 
decades was far more important than has been generally 
thought. 1 Contrary to what most fashion histories have led 
us to believe, Italian fashion was not peripheral to the 
development of international style. Indeed, to attain an 
accurate picture of twentieth-century fashion, it is essential 
to reassess the Italian contribution. This essay focuses on 
the American perception of Italian fashion in the period 
from 1943 to 1968 as a preliminary stage in what must be a 
collective effort on the part of many scholars to compose a 
truly international picture of fashion history. 

The stylistic analysis of garments in museum collections 
in New "York City not only reveals considerable talent on 
the part of individual Italian designers but also provides 
evidence for the development of a genuine national style. 4 
In contrast to the opulent formality of French couture, 
Italian postwar fashion was characterized by an 
uninhibited yet sophisticated sense of style. Playful, sexy, 
and effervescent, Italian clothes appealed by virtue of their 
gay colors, imaginative surface decoration, and 
unconventional use of materials. Produced within the 
context of craft-oriented workshops that tended to be small 
in scale and geographically dispersed, Italian fashion was 
not only artistically inspired but also so commercially 
successful that it proved instrumental in Italy's rapid 
postwar economic recovery. 

Italian fashion has been neglected for several, related 
reasons. Italy has a long tradition of elegant craftmanship, 
but craft per se is not equivalent to art, not even the art of 
fashion. Moreover, although Italy produced high-quality 
clothes, some of which had been imported into the United 
States as early as the turn of the century, it is nonetheless 
true that the dominant aesthetic of Italian fashion was for 
many years derived from Parisian couture. Italian artisans 
were, in fact, often employed by French couture houses to 
do fine handwork, such as embroidery, and to create 
accessories, such as lingerie and shoes. Indeed, Italian 
accessories were world famous, and well-dressed women 
everywhere bought purses by Gucci (established in 
Florence by Guccio Gucci in 1906) and shoes by Ferragamo 
(established in 1927 in Florence by Salvatore Ferragamo, see 
fig. 1, cat. nos. 577-602). But a pair of shoes or a purse, 
however beautiful, has generally been regarded as 
secondary to the dress, the major element in the ensemble. 

Traditionally, then, Italian fashion was in a subordinate 
position vis-a-vis French fashion and Paris, the 
international capital of fashion since the seventeenth 
century. Indeed, Elsa Schiaparelli, the most famous Italian- 

496 Fashion 

born designer of the 1930s, had established her couture 
house in Paris, where she achieved the international 
recognition denied to designers based elsewhere. During 
World War II, Schiaparelli fled to the United States, but 
she continued to insist, "It is not possible lor New York or 
any other city to take the place of Paris. " s The Italian 
Fascist elite did not agree, however, arguing that clothing 
should be national in character, drawing inspiration from 
classical Rome, regional costumes, and the Italian 
Renaissance. Despite this nationalist propaganda the wives 
of Fascist leaders tended to wear dresses that were 
essentially copies of French designs. But even Italy's 
subordinate position was threatened when Benito 
Mussolini's Ethiopian adventure resulted in the League of 
Nations sanctions of 1936, which, combined with the 
autarchical economic policies of the Fascist regime, 
crippled the Italian fashion industry. With the outbreak of 
war in Europe, in 1939, craftsmen were drafted, production 
plummeted, trade with the Allied countries ceased, and 
raw materials became unobtainable; Ferragamo, for 
example, had to use cork, paper, and crocheted cellophane 
in place of leather. 

The development of an authentic Italian style and a 
modern fashion system occurred only after World War II, 
within the context of a new international fashion system. 
Italy's relationship with the United States was particularly 
relevant. Like Italy the United States had traditionally 
copied French fashion. But because the American fashion 
industry was entirely cut off from trends in France by the 
Nazi occupation of Paris, designers were forced to develop a 
genuinely American style. The wartime rise of American 
sportswear was to have an important influence on the 
subsequent development of Italian fashion. The postwar 
revival of the Italian clothing and textile industries played 
a cathartic (and highly visible) role in Italy's economic 
reconstruction. By the mid- 1940s many Italian fashion 
companies were regaining strength and actively promoting 
international trade, especially via connections with the 
Italian-American community in New York. The initial 
emphasis was on prewar Italian export items, such as shoes, 
handbags, and straw hats, but this soon expanded to 
clothing as well. Because the United States constituted 
Italy's primary overseas market at this time, American 
attitudes toward fashion had a major impact on the 
development of the fashion system in both countries. 

The discourse on Italian fashion in the American press 
provides important insights into the development of what 
came to be known as "the Italian look." Fashion journalists 
at that time were often justifiably enthusiastic about the 
work of Italian designers, but they also perceived Italian 
fashion through a veil of stereotypes. The first important 
article on Italian fashion was published in 1947 in America's 
premier fashion magazine, Vogue. The language is 
quintessential Vb#//espeak, inasmuch as the formal 
elements of fashion (fabric, design, and workmanship) are 
assimilated into an idealized personality type, as seen 
through the lens of national, class, and gender stereotypes. 
Consider the opening paragraph: 

fig. 1. Salvatort Ferragamo and 

A 11 ilny Hepburn, photographed by 
Locchi in 1954. 

The sophisticated Italian woman has. at the outset, two great 
advantages: Wonderful materials and an apparently 
inexhaustible pool of hand labor. The Italian woman of 

49- Valerii S/< ( /( 


iuiu ..-ii- 

fc \ 



figs. 2, ,'. Two spreads from "It.//) &/> 
Dri no/ f /i, " Life, August 20. rp^i. 
Photographs by Milton Green. 

breeding also has a certain quality of relaxation (not ////natural 
since she seldom works) which endows her clothes with an easy 
grace, a free, uninhibited inurement. Her thonged sandals help 
too. for her legs and feet are possibly the best in Europe. " 

If, for Vogue, "fashion" equaled "woman," then Italian 
fashion was represented by a sophisticated and beautiful 
aristocrat, whose naked legs and uninhibited body 
language implied the eroticism of a modern odalisque. 
This woman was an alluring role model for American 
women. \et Vogue's reporter, Marya Mannes, defensively 
criticized what she regarded as the flaws of Italian style: 
"Italian clothes are inclined to be as extrovert as the people 
who wear them . . . gay, charming, sometimes dramatic, 
but seldom highly imaginative or arresting." A "lack of 
imagination" (that is, a reliance on French silhouettes) was 
not the real problem for Mannes; rather, it was the 
inherently "extrovert" drama of Italian style that made her 
nervous. Bold prints and bright colors might look well 
"under that blanching sun," but they seemed too "intense" 
and "unsubtle" for American tastes. Italian accessories, 
however, were more familiar, so not only Gucci's prestigious 
bucket bag but even Ferragamo's rather eccentric Oxford 
shoes made of scaly pink fish skin were praised, as were 
sexy Italian playsuits: "little-girlish but in no way 
innocent." And the prices (about $100 for a day dress and 
$200 for an evening dress) "are far lower than in Paris." 
The subtext was: "Go to Italy and buy these clothes," most 
of which were not yet available in American stores. 

Italian fashion was often promoted in the American 
press in conjunction with stories about vacations in a warm 
and beautiful land, which served as the "pretext for 
stereotyped touristic— anthropological digressions.'" 
Typical titles in the American popular press included 
"Italy: Her Wonderful People'"' and "These Enchanting 
Italians."' "Italian Ideas for Any South," an article on 
beach and resort wear in Vogue, promoted Italian "sun 
clothes" as chic and stylish. The allure of the Italian woman 
was again emphasized: "It's a game they play in the 
European resorts — guessing how many well-dressed 
women are Italians."" The "souvenir effect" of Italian 
fashion played a distinct role in its early success with 
Americans. If Italy was the beautiful and sexy "other" for 
Americans, the United States played a complimentary role 
for Italians as the rich and successful cousin. But Italian 
reconstruction could not depend solely on free-spending 
American tourists. It was necessary to involve the 
American market on a much wider scale, and the fashion 
show provided an obvious way to promote Italian clothing 
design. Italian fashion was, from the beginning, turned 
into a spectacle. 

In the early 1950s the idea was to woo American 
journalists and department-store buyers, not so much by 
providing a design alternative to Paris as by demonstrating 
that "the Italians were as good as anyone at putting on a 
'show.'" 2 The first important Italian fashion show was held 
in May 1950 at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence. 
Mannequins emerged from reproductions of famous 
Renaissance paintings, emphasizing the connection 
between fashion design and Italy's heritage of art and 
culture. The commercial "invention" of Italian fashion, 
however, is generally credited to the Florentine 

498 Fashion 

businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini,' who organized a 
second show, in February 1951, at the Villa Torrigiani. From 
America only one journalist (Elisa Massai) and eight 
department store buyers attended. However, Women's Wear 
Daily published a front-page article, "Italian Styles Gain 
Approval of U.S. Buyers," with the slightly misleading 
subheading, "Many from Top Fashion Stores Attend 
Florence Showing of 180 Models and Accessories."" When 
Giorgini organized another "big, hectic fashion show" in 
July 1951,' 4 featuring designers from Rome, Milan, Turin, 
and Florence, almost 200 American buyers and journalists 
came, along with another hundred from Italy and other 
European centers. 

Soon after Giorgini's second show America's most 
important mass-market periodical, Life, published a major 
article, "Italy Gets Dressed Up" (figs. 2, 3), which reported 
rhapsodically on how Italy's "amazing postwar recovery" 
had resulted in the development of a "fledgling fashion 
industry" that attracted American buyers and was even 
said to "pose a challenge to Paris." The article's tone, 
however, was slightly condescending: American fashion 
leaders "descended on the little museum city of Florence" 
like a "friendly invasion"; the fashion show was crowded 
and disorganized, "but the eager-to-please Italians" 
did their best and ended by "scoring" a real success; 
"Italy . . . made a good beginning in its upstart attempt to 
enter fashion's big leagues."" In fact the French clearly felt 
threatened by the appearance of regular fashion shows in 
Florence, and the July 1951 show provoked anguished 
editorializing, epitomized in the headline: "La bombe de 
Florence a ebranle les salons de la Haute Couture Parisienne 
et menace son monopole"(The bomb from Florence has 
shaken the salons of the Parisian haute couture and 
threatened its monopoly)."' But Americans were not about 
to abandon Paris, although they did very much like Italian 
sportswear, fabrics, and prices. 

After Giorgini's pioneering 1951 shows it was decided 
that the fourth "Italian High Fashion Show," in July 1952, 
would be held in one of Florence's most beautiful settings: 
the Sala Bianca of the Palazzo Pitti. For five days in the 
sweltering heat, 350 spectators, including representatives 
from American companies such as Macy's and Neiman 
Marcus, studied fashions by nine haute couture, or alta 
moda, houses and sixteen houses presenting sportswear and 
boutique styles. The Italians had succeeded in putting 
Florence on the international fashion circuit. Fashion could 
no longer be thought of as radiating from Paris to the 
provinces. Rather "the white and crystal splendour of the 
Pitti Palace" provided an appropriately impressive setting 
for Italy's seasonal fashion shows; as Florence became a 
venue for fashion designers from all over Italy, the Pitti 
Palace was regularly "jamful for buyers and the press for 
the Italian Collections . . . even some Iron Curtain 
countries were represented." As a result of the publicity 
engendered by these fashion shows and the appearance of 
Florence as a world fashion capital, the volume of Italian 
clothes sold abroad increased dramatically. Many clothes 
were directly imported into the United States; in other 
cases American manufacturers bought the rights to copy 
Italian designs. Whether or not particular clothes were 
actually "made in Italy," they were increasingly perceived 
as representing "the Italian look." 

"Just like the Chiann, Italy's fashions are becoming as 
well known as its table wine, reported Life in a 1952 art ic le 
on Italian imports that was featured on the magazine's 
cover (figs. 4, 5). For Americans in the 1950s a straw-covered 
bottle of Chianti was an integral element in the popular 
image of a young and bohemian life style. Inexpensive by 
contrast to fine French wine, Chianti was regarded as 
young, sexy, romantic, and cosmopolitan — all attributes 
that could equally be applied to Italian fashions, such as 
Simonetta Visconti's "puffy playsuit," available at Bergdorl 
Goodman in New "York for $40. Italian fashion was no 
longer seen primarily "in terms of handbags and 
umbrellas." \ ^//e covered the Italian collections in 1952 
and concluded: 

There are three exciting things about I tali an fash ion today. The 
first is that Italy is capable 0/ producing a kind 0/ clothi 1 u huh 
suit America exactly. . . . Namely: clothes for outdoors, lot- 
resorts . . . {and} separates, jads . . . all the ga) things, all tht 
boutique articles and accessories. 

The second is the fabrics — anything and everything 
pertaining to Italian fabrics is newsworthy.- 

The third is the evening dresses, marvellously madt in 
marvellous silks at a relatively low cost. (Evening life is 
something that the Italians understand thoroughly. . . .) 

These are the three things in which the Italians need to be 
encouraged; they should be given wings to develop their nativt 
specialities, and urgently discouraged from French adaptations. 

Italian evening dresses were more derivative of French 
fashion and therefore less historically significant than 
Italian fabrics and boutique fashions. Nevertheless we can 
identify important designers and styles. A striking use of 
color is typical of many Italian designers. An evening gown 
made in 1952 by Roman couturier Emilio Schuberth (in the 
collection of The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, New York; see also cat. nos. 551-55), for 
example, consists of bands of pink-mauve grading into a 
dark cerise that alternate with black bands, the whole- 
decorated with appliqueed black lace. The dress was worn 
with pale old-rose satin ten-button gloves. The lavish use 
of supplementary decoration is also typical of much Italian 
fashion. This is hardly surprising; we have seen that even 
the French couturiers frequently employed skilled Italian 
craftsmen to decorate their dresses. Moreover it is 
stylistically congruent with the theatrical, even glittering 
quality characteristic of Italian evening dresses as well as 
film costumes. 

The influence of the movies on Italian fashion was 
unquantifiable but immense. Because production costs in 
Rome were low in the 1950s, not only Italian films but also 
many American films were produced there. Movie stars like 
Ava Gardner and Gina Lollobrigida consequentlj tended to 
wear Italian high fashion on screen ami ott. Even when a 
Hollywood costume designer like Edith I lead t reated tin 
stars wardrobe, as she did tor Audrey I lepburn in W ilham 
Wylers Roman Holiday (1953), an American film shot on 
location in Rome, most viewers probably asso< iated the 
star's clothes with Roman high style. Rome became a 
combination oi Pans and I lollywood. Giovanna, Micol, and 
Zoe Fontana, working under the name Sorelle Fontana 

(Fontana Sisters, see I at. nos. sM 65), were Roman 

499 Valt rit Steelt 


t HEllCOP!i8 l!f* OF THE U S 

MIS * ^ v ^«^ _#*^ 

lu-l III,, llir Chianti 


figs. 4. 5. Cover and page from "Italian 
Imports," Life. April 14. 1052. Dress on 
covertvas designed by Jolt Veneziani 

ami reproduced by Hannah Troy of New 
York. Photographs by Mark Shaw. 

fig. 6. AMcol Fontana. Ball gown, 1954, 
latin, peach leather, cotton, and velvet. 
Thl Brooklyn Museum, New York. 
Gift ofSignora Micol Fontana. 

couturiers, famous both for their wedding dresses 
(President Harry S Truman's daughter Margaret wore one) 
and evening gowns as well as for their film costumes. They 
also designed costumes for Gardner in another American 
production filmed in Italy, Joseph Mankiewicz's The 
Barefoot Contessa (1954). One of the dresses from the film is 
a strapless pink evening gown, decorated with a 
biomorphic floral design in sequins and velvet, and 
accompanied by a fitted cape with exaggeratedly long open 
sleeves for an effect of theatrical glamour (fig. 6 ). 

Italian fabrics were visually striking and exceptionally 
innovative. Many textile manufacturers hired talented 
artists to design for them, and willingly experimented with 
such labor-intensive techniques as floral "prints" made of 
individual appliqueed petals. Trompe-l'oeil effects were 
popular, from linen painted to look like wood to 
complicated Op art prints, like those designed in 1966 by 
the painter Getulio Alviani for Germana Marucelli (cat. 
nos. 533, 534, see also cat. nos. 529-32). So apparently 
newsworthy were Italian fabrics that the captions in fashion 
magazines often included such information as the 
following: "Emilion: Zebra dress of hand-painted linen 
(Fabric: Line e Lani)."'° Indeed, Pucci's success was 
inseparable from his textile designs (see cat. nos. 538-47). 
The appeal of the kaleidoscopic mixture of colors typical of 
Pucci's prints made them international bestsellers. A single 
scarf might be printed in more than a dozen colors, in a 
swirling abstract design. Pucci also pioneered the use of 
lightweight artificial fabrics, especially those that 
stretched. As early as 1948 his ski and resort fashions were 
featured in Harper's Bazaar" but he really came into his 
own in the 1950s, when he adapted the look and comfort of 
ski pants to astonishingly directional play clothes, such as 
jumpsuits in stretch fabric. He also paired capri pants with 
silk shirts in bold scarf-print designs, helping to establish 
one of the classical styles of the twentieth century. By the 
1960s his featherweight silk-jersey separates had become 
international symbols of the jet set. Indeed, in 1965 — 66 
Pucci also designed stewardess uniforms for Braniff 
Airlines (fig. 7). The Italian contribution to informal 
fashion, what Vogue called "clothes for outdoors [and] 
resorts," was a major factor in the success of Italian fashion 
in America. Sportswear had been the big hit of the 
Florence fashion shows from the very beginning. Knit tops, 
tight black slacks, and sweaters were especially popular by 
virtue of their "easy casualness" and "low prices.'" 

Yet snob appeal was also an important element in the 
success of Italian fashion. "Hard-up aristocrats . . . turned 
to designing after the war," explained Life, lovingly citing 
Italy's noble fashion designers, such as Marchese Emilio 
Pucci, Principessa Giovanna Caracciolo di Avellino 
Giannetti of Carosa (see cat. no. 512), Baronessa Gallotti, 
and, especially, Contessa Simonetta Visconti (fig. 8). :< The 
discourse in the popular press demonstrates how Italian 
fashion was simultaneously perceived as cheap-and- 
cheerful and also prestigious, cultivated, even noble. Italian 
fashion was constantly associated with "Italian 
fashionables," like the "six contessas and two marchesas— 
wearing the latest creations of major Italian designers — 
[who] patriotically partied their way across the ocean to 
New York" on a three-week promotional tour. "Even the 
cloakroom girl at El Morocco asked me where I got my 

500 Fashion 

dress," declared Contessa Marisa Brandolini." 24 As Italian 
fashion rapidly became identified with status, American 
department stores were "quick to capitalize on the fact that 
snobbery sells" by importing hundreds of millions of 
dollars worth of products/ 4 This snob appeal was ironic 
given the fact that the most important and most widely 
consumed segment of Italian fashion consisted of informal 
clothing, produced in opposition to the stuffy opulence of 
the French couture. Simonetta's career is especially 
revealing in this respect, and it also sheds light on 
attitudes toward women designers. 

Life called Simonetta the "Titled Glamour Girl of 
Italian Designers.""' She was born in 1922, the daughter of 
Duke Giovanni Colonna. After the war she married Count 
Galeazzo Visconti di Modrone, and used her married name, 
Simonetta Visconti, when she began designing clothes in 
1946. Her marriage to Count Visconti was terminated in 
1949, but press reports continued to alternate between her 
paternal and marital titles for several years. "Donna 
Simonetta Colonna di Cesaro bought her summer-in-Capri 
wardrobe in America . . . for $56," announced Vogue in 1951. 
Four pictures of the beautiful Roman designer in her 
"American play wardrobe" were juxtaposed with a full- 
page formal portrait showing her wearing her own silk 
coat." In other words it was not her pedigree alone that 
appealed to American journalists; just as important was its 
conjunction with an apparently unpretentious personality. 

Described as the "youngest, liveliest member" a of the 
Italian fashion world, the "petite and coquettish"' 
Simonetta handled the press with finesse. A vacation in 
America "sold her on the U.S. way of wearing clothes," 
happily reported Life. "Both her personal wardrobe and her 
collections show an affinity for American style." In fact 
Simonetta traveled frequently to America and was 
obviously an astute judge of American publicity. Whether 
or not her popular capri pants and corduroy jackets were 
really "designed especially for lounging Americans," they 
strongly appealed to the American market.' In 1953 
Simonetta married Alberto Fabiani, another well-known 
Roman fashion designer (see fig. 9, cat. no. 513). 
"Simonetta's forte is young, ultrafeminine sports and 
cocktail clothes," reported the New York press, whereas 
husband Fabiani was known as "the surgeon of suits and 
coats" for his clean, rather conservative tailoring." After 
their marriage they maintained separate, rival 
establishments in Rome. "Fashion design is a mad 
business," Simonetta explained to one reporter. "While I'm 
doing a collection, I work until three in the morning for 
days at a time. If my husband were a lawyer he would not 
understand this. But, you see, he's doing the same 
thing. . . . My husband is known for his style and I for 
mine." ,: Simonetta's silhouettes tended to follow the 
currently fashionable lines, originating in Paris and copied 
in Italy and America, but her use of materials was often 
imaginative. An afternoon dress from about 1955 (in the 
collection of The Museum at F.I.T., New York) consists of 
rows of raffia interspersed with bands of pink ribbon: "the 
Italians reinvent the grass skirt," joked the museum's 
coordinator of costume collections, Fred Dennis. A 
strapless evening dress from 1950 (in the collection of 
The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York) is equally unorthodox, with a skirt made of 

fig. 7. Emilio Pucci, Braniff Airlines 

hostess uniforms. 196s- 66. Texas 
Fashion Collection. University of North 
Texas. Denton. 

fig. 8. Simonetta Visconti in her Roi/n 
workshop, photographed by Arnold 
Newman for "Italy: Her Wonderful 
People. " Holiday. April 19$$. 

SOI Yah in Stall 

figs. p. w. Left: Dress by Alberto 
Fabiani, with Pirelli skyscraper, 
Milan. Right: Dress by Roberto 
Capucci, u ith ceramics by Fornasetti. 
Both photographed by Mark Kauffman 
for "Dramatic Decadi "I Italian Style." 
Life. December i, 1961. 

fig. 11. Ireni Galitzene and Jacquelim 
Kennedy in Capri, in i960. 

wide strips of black velvet and jersey loosely woven in a 
checked pattern. 

Simonetta was a talented designer whose clients 
included the fashion editors Bettina Ballard of Vogue and 
Carmel Snow of Harper's Bazaar. In terms of formal 
construction, however, the most innovative Italian designer 
was Capucci (see fig. 10, cat. nos. 502 — 11). Described by 
Vogue in 1952 as "easily Rome's most promising young 
designer," Capucci designed clothes that "if too costume-y, 
at least are completely original and full of ideas."' 
Whereas French couture had a place for extreme artistry, 
Capucci remained an isolated figure in Rome. In 1962 he 
left for Paris, followed by Simonetta and Fabiani in the 
same year. In a piece whimsically titled "Bonjour Paris, 
Addio Rome, Say Couture Duo," Women's Wear Daily 
reported, "The mother and father of Italian fashion, 
Simonetta and Fabiani, are off to Paris ... a real blow to 
the Italian couture which just recently lost Capucci to the 
French capital."' 4 Although none of them was ultimately 
successful in Paris, their defection did not hurt the Italian 
fashion system. Their abscence may actually have "clear[ed] 
the way for new talents," like Valentino [Valentino 
Garavani, see cat. nos. 566—75) and Russian-born Princess 
Irene Galitzine, as well as shorter-lived talents like 
Federico Forquet and Patrick de Barentzen." 

In 1961, ten years after the breakthrough Florence fashion 
shows, Life celebrated "The Bold Italian Look that 
Changed Fashion." The essay, "Dramatic Decade of Italian 
Style," begins by stressing Italy's achievements in all areas 
of design, not only fashion: "Italy in a few brief years has 
changed the way the world looks — the cars, buildings, 
furniture and, most universally, the women." In terms of 
fashion per se it had been a "Dramatic Decade," full of 
"Knockout Clothes." Despite the hyperbole (the cover 
screamed "Explosion in Style") Life's analysis of Italy's 
contributions to fashion was amazingly acute. There is a 
brief survey of recent accomplishments: the Italian 
collections were now a major stop on the fashion circuit; 
Italy exported more clothes than any other country. "But 
Italy's fantastic fashion record does not rest on volume 
alone. Her designers have contributed an outstanding list 
of style changes," including the vogue for knits, stretch 
pants, scarf-print shirts, shoes with pointed toes, and men's 
silk suits. Italians came up with "the most striking color 
combinations, the tightest pants, [and] the wildest prints." 
Among the clothes depicted are a sexy stretch-fabric 
catsuit by Pucci, "for entertaining at home "; a gold at- 
home outfit by Simonetta, also in stretch fabric; three 
evening slack outfits by Galitzine; as well as dresses by 
Fabiani and Capucci (figs. 9, 10)."' 

From the perspective of the 1990s we can see that Italian 
fashion design was profoundly directional. Many of the 
clothes, such as the stretch pants, evening slacks, and scarf- 
printed shirts, could be worn thirty years later. The 
combination of luxury and at-home casualness remains 
particularly striking. The Italian style also exerted a 
profound influence on menswear: elegant in a casual way, it 
was also streamlined, body-conscious, and colorful. As 
Vogue observed in 1956: "Italian influence on men's clothes is 
a fact now — and American men are getting to know the 
facts: that Italian tailoring can be very much at home in 
America; that naturally slender jackets and straight- 

50Z Fas hi 

hanging cuffless trousers ... are smart and comfortable at 
the same time."' 

Part of the appeal of Italian clothing for Americans 
derived from the characteristics that they associated with 
the Italian people. At a time when most American men 
were still the products of a sexually repressed culture, 
strait jacketed into rigid gender stereotypes of appropriate 
"manly" behavior, the appeal of an alternative masculine 
role was powerful indeed. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, the 
Armani mystique would draw on this same American 
belief in the supersensuality of the Italian male. We saw 
the stereotype of the sophisticated Italian woman in Vogue, 
and we see the male version in the photo-essay "The Italian 
Man," published in Life in 1963. "He dresses up to present a 
bella figura," we are told, although most of the pictures 
show men in sleeveless undershirts or bathing suits. But 
the point was that whatever "he" wore expressed a 
particular personality, which was characterized as natural, 
spontaneous, and self-confident. Endowed with enthusiasm 
and innocent egotism, "laughter and love and a particular 
kind of triumphant masculinity," he could cry like a baby 
and still remain a "he-man." His "sensuality" enabled him 
to move and dance, to "show-off" without inhibitions: "He 
knows the girl will sigh with bliss."' 

It is often assumed that the "Peacock Revolution" of the 
1960s originated in "swinging" London. The "mod" clothes 
(the term was an abbreviation of "modern") worn on 
Carnaby Street were indeed a visible sign of London's 
vibrant youth culture, and gained notoriety when worn on 
the backs of pop music stars. Yet Italian fashion design had 
a great influence on London's fashion revolution. 
Throughout the 1950s the Vespa motorscooter and the 
espresso bar were modern design icons; so also were 
imported Italian men's clothes. The streamlined and 
colorful menswear coming out of Italy — the soft boxy 
jackets, slim trousers, and bright colors — were highly 
attractive to trendsetting young British males. "I liked the 
Italian stuff," recalled pop star David Bowie, "the box 
jackets and the mohair." - ' Colin Maclnnes's 1959 novel of 
English youth, Absolute Beginners, also clearly emphasizes 
the importance of Italian style in the self-presentation of a 
character called the Dean: "College-boy smooth crop hair 
with burned-in parting, neat white Italian round-collared 
shirt, short Roman jacket very tailored (two little vents, 
three buttons), no turn-up narrow trousers with seventeen- 
inch bottoms absolute maximum, pointed toe shoes, and a 
white mac folded by his side." 40 

It was London, however, not Florence, that emerged as 
the capital of " Youthquake" fashion. Not only did Italy lack 
a genuine youth culture (which centered around popular 
music), but the Catholic Church attacked youth fashions 
like the miniskirt as immodest. There were other problems 
with the Italian fashion system, as well, which prevented it 
from exploiting the progress that had been made since 
1950. Geographical fragmentation was a major stumbling 
block. Florence had been the citadel of Italian fashion for 
some years, but it was increasingly challenged by Rome. 
Designers based in Rome complained that they were tired 
of traveling 190 miles to show their collections in Florence, 
where, moreover, they were restricted in the number of 
ensembles they could present in the group shows at the 
Pitti Palace. 

The competition between Florence and Rome did not 
work to Italy's advantage. "If the Italian clothes designers 
would pull together, they could probably match the 
French. . . . Instead they are too busy sticking pins into 
each other," complained Newsweek. Buyers and fashion 
reporters "were forced either to take sides in the battle or 
split up into two teams to cover both cities because of 
openings that conflicted." 4 ' A compromise was worked out. 
whereby Florence showed accessories and boutique- 
fashions, what Time magazine called "the gags," tun 
fashions like "hip-hugging chiffon pants" and "backless 
bikinis," while Rome became the center ot the couture, 
showing luxurious ensembles such as "patio pyjamas 
(patterned in mauve and pea-green poppies) and open- 
front, open-back nightgowns." 

Over time, Rome began to receive the lion's share ot 
American attention. A refuge for luxury in a world of fast- 
moving youth fashions, the Roman couture seemed 
perfectly designed for la dolce vita. According to the 
American fashion press, the "beautiful people" not only 
wore Italian high fashion, they often were themselves 
aristocratic Italian fashion designers. Galitzine, for 
example, was an elegant society woman who achieved 
international fame in i960 when she showed, at the Pitti 
Palace, what Vogue editor Diana Vreeland dubbed "palazzo 
pajamas" (cat. nos. 518—20). Her subsequent collections 
varied in quality, "depending on which young designer 
she . . . recruitfed] for that particular season." 4- In any 
case, she was featured in the press for her private parties 
with friends like Jacqueline Kennedy as much as for her 
designs (fig. 11). Palazzo pajamas epitomized the look of 
Italian haute couture in the 1960s. The Italian couture had 
long been associated with glamour. But whereas glamour 
in the 1950s had signified evening dresses with boned 
bodices and long skirts, by the 1960s there was a growing 
tendency to emphasize informal styles — especially pants. 
These were not tailored pantsuits for working women, 
however. An orange-silk halter top and loose-floating 
trousers from the mid-1960s (in the collection of The 
Museum at F.I.T) evoked an almost Middle Eastern image 
of femininity. An alternative style in 1963 consisted of 
Simonetta et Fabiani's one-piece costume with a full 
gathered skirt that folded under at the center front to form 
pants (in the collection of The Costume Institute, The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Luxurious 
Italian at-home clothes like these were designed tor women 
whose "job" was to entertain. The elegant dinner party, not 
the boardroom, was their fashion arena. 

Italian fashion received a ^reat deal ot favorable 
publicity in fashion magazines like VogUi and Harper's 
Bazaar, but almost always in conjunction with the theme 
of international high society. Even a trade publication like 
Women's Wear Daily increasinglj emphasized the 
connections between fashion and high society, writing ot 
Valentino, "He's made it big with the Social Register . . . 
and the cash register.'' ' The fashion status game worked to 
the advantage ot a designer like- Valentino, who was not 
only a great talent but w ho had tin business a< umen to 
expand successfully from couture to various licensing 
agreements. In [968, for example, the New York 

department store Ford cV Taylor bought "26 out tits tor 
copying and 2: designs lor which the- store will take- orders 

503 Valerit S/nA 

to be custom made." According to The New York Times, 
Valentino's clothes "disappeared with the rapidity of green 
carnations on St. Patrick's Day." 4i 

It is not our purpose to enumerate the many talented 
designers of the 1960s, but two examples, Forquet and 
Barentzen, may throw light on the vicissitudes of Italian 
fashion. Forquet was a man of the world who amused 
himself for several years by working as a couturier, creating 
some unusually beautiful garments. Hailed by Women's 
Wear Daily in 1966 as a "Leader of the Italian Couture," he 
used "opulent fabrics and colors, such as emerald 
checkerboard silk moire" (see cat. nos. 515 — 17). 4 " Vreeland 
was one of his clients (a dress made for her, circa 1962, is in 
the collection of The Museum at F.I.T.), as was socialite 
Baby Jane Holzer; for the latter he designed a strange and 
beautiful evening jumpsuit covered with silver latticework 
(in the collection of The Costume Institute, The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). But Forquet, 
who appeared in Marilyn Bender's The Beautiful People, 
primarily in connection with a "charming little dinner 
party" attended by international society ladies, was not 
able to sustain his career. 4 " Nor was Barentzen, another 
"hot Italian talent" in the 1960s, whose clothes were 
frequently shown in Vogue; according to James Brady, 
former publisher of Women's Wear Daily, Barentzen "played 
the grand seigneur with people who had earlier helped his 
career along, and when he went broke there were few to 
weep for him." 4 " Even Galitzine, "friend and dressmaker for 
Mrs. John F. Kennedy and other leading members of 
international society," suddenly went bankrupt in 1968. 4 " 

The expansive economy and avid consumerism of the 
1960s theoretically should have provided a hospitable 
climate for fashion. And although, in fact, the mid-1960s 
was a golden age for Rome's haute-couture houses, the 
couture was becoming peripheral to the main thrust of 
international fashion, with its growing emphasis on pret-a- 
porter, or ready-to-wear. Only a few Italian fashion 
businesses, like Fiorucci, a store that specialized in young 
styles, were successful at attracting the burgeoning youth 
market. Where the Italians would ultimately excel was in 
the realm of luxury sportswear for both men and women. 
The locus for such sportswear was Milan, and by the 1970s 
that city had emerged as the new capital of Italian fashion, 
eclipsing both Rome and Florence. Foreign press coverage 
of Roman couture dwindled yearly as international 
attention shifted decisively toward the work of such 
designers as Armani and Versace. Designers who were 
already committed to refined sportswear moved first. 
Missoni, a family-owned company specializing in knitwear, 
had already, in the 1960s, pioneered new mixtures of yarns 
and colors (see cat. nos. 535-37). Krizia, the fashion house 
headed by Mariuccia Mandelli (see cat. nos. 521-24), had 
also focused on stylish pret-a-porter. Mandelli was 
frustrated by the limits imposed by the Italian system, 
which, because of the age-old inferiority complex with 
regard to France, persisted in the view that pret-a-porter 
was somehow unworthy of fashion shows. The artificial 
division between Florence and Rome left no venue for pret- 
a-porter, stylish or not. As Mandelli recalled, she talked 
with Missoni and a few others and "they all said: all right, 
we'll show in Milan, too." 1 " 

The rise of Milan coincided with the international 

emergence of Italian menswear under the influence of 
designers like Armani, who had spent the 1960s working 
first as a buyer for a department store, then as a designer 
for Nino Cerruti, and finally as a freelance designer, before 
showing his first collection in 1974. It is beyond the scope 
of this essay to describe how Armani revolutionized 
menswear, except to say that he built on a foundation of 
men's tailoring already existing in the 1950s, as well as 
exploiting the established reputation of Italian men for 
sensual masculinity. 1 ' Moreover Italian fashion, for both 
men and women, could only have emerged from a system 
that long had emphasized the production of high-quality 
textiles, the basic materials of fashion. 

504 Fashion 

i. Yvonne Deslandres and Florence M tiller, Histoire du costume au 
XXe siecle (History of twentieth-century fashion. Paris: Somogy, 1986), 
does not mention Italian fashion at all, although Valentino [Valentino 
Garavani] and Nino Cerruti are listed in the appendix. Elizabeth 
Ewing, History of Twentieth-Century Fashion (London: 
B. T. Batsford, 1974) devotes three paragraphs to Italian fashion, 
pp. 170-72. Michael and Ariane Batterberry, Fashion: Tht Mirror of 
History (New York: Greenwich House, 1977), makes only a short 
reference to Italy, p. 35. For the period 1943-68, see also Jane Mulvagh, 
Vogue History of 20th-century Fashion (New York: Viking, 1988), 
pp. 186 — 87, including one paragraph each for Pucci and Capucci. 
Caroline Reynolds Milbank, Couture: The Great Designers (New York: 
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1985) includes sections on Valentino, 
Capucci, and (post- 1970) Armani. 

2. For a discussion of "made in Italy" versus "the Italian look," see, for 
example, Chiara Gianelli Buss, "Stylism in Men's Fashion," in 
Grazietta Butazzi and Alessandra Mottolo Molfino, eds., Italian 
Fashion: From Anti-Fashion to Stylism (Milan: Electa, 1987), p. 232. for 
an analysis of the Italian fashion system, which "was first developed in 
the Seventies," see Silvia Giacomoni, "A Fashion which Has Altered 
the Landscape," in Olga Cardazzi and Silvia Giacobone, eds., Profilo 
Italia un certo stile Made in Italy: Design, arts, creatinta italtana in 
mostra a Torino (Italian profile of a certain style Made in Italy: design, 
arts, Italian creativity on display in Turin. Turin: Palazzo Vela, 1990), 

P- 35- 

3. This reevaluation is already under way. See, for example, Guido 
Vergani, The Sala Bianca: The Birth of Italian Fashion (Milan: Electa, 

4. Grateful acknowledgments are made to Richard Martin, curator, 
and Dennita Sewell, study storage assistant, The Costume Institute, 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Patricia Mears, research 
associate, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; collector and 
freelance curator Beverley Birks; and Fred Dennis, coordinator of 
costume collections, The Museum at F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of 
Technology), New York, for permission to see the Italian garments in 
their collections. 

5. Elsa Schiaparelli, cited in Valerie Steele, Paris Fashion: A Cultural 
History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 269. 

6. Marya Mannes, "Italian Fashion," Vogue, January 1, 1947, p. 119. 

7. Ibid., pp. 119, 155. 

8. Orella Morelli, "The International Success and Domestic Debut of 
Postwar Italian Fashion," in Gloria Bianchino, ed., Italian Fashion: The 
Origins of High Fashion and Knitwear (Milan: Electa, 1987), p. 60. 

9. "Italy: Her Wonderful People," Holiday, April 1955, pp. 34—38, 
40—42, 118 — 22, 124-25. 

10. "These Enchanting Italians," Reader's Digest, August 1956, pp. 

ii. "Italian Ideas for Any South," Vogue, November 15, 1951, p. 124. 

12. Bonizza Giordani Aragno, "The Mirror's Role in the Atelia," in 
Italian Fashion: The Origins of High Fashion and Knitwear, p. 98. 

13. "Italian Styles Gain Approval of U.S. Buyers," Women's Wear Daily, 
February 15, 1951, p. 1. 

14. "Italy Gets Dressed Up," Life, August 20, 1951, p. 104. 

15. Ibid., pp. 104—12. 

16. "La bombe de Florence a ebranle les salons de la Haute Couture 
Parisienne et menace son monopole," Paris-Presse, August 6, [gji, p. 1. 

17. "The Good Word on Italy — and Italian Fashion," Vogue, April 1, 
1961, p. 135. 

18. "Italian Imports," Life, April 14, 1952, p. 89. 

19. "Italian Collections Notebook," Vogue, September 15, 1952, p. 154. 

20. Ibid., p. 154. 

21. "An Italian Skier Designs," Harper's Bazaar, December 1948, 
pp. 130-31. 

22. "Italian Collections Notebook," pp. 104, 107, 108. 

23. "Italy Gets Dressed Up," p. 108. 

24. "Fashions from Italy," Look, May 1, 1956, p. 68. 

25. "Italian Snob Appeal," Look, January 17, 1961, pp. 65-66. 

26. "Italy Gets Dressed Up," p. no. 

27. "Donna Simonetta Colonna di Cesaro . . . and I ler $56 American 
Play Wardrobe," Vogue, May 15, 1951, pp. 94-95. 

28. Virginia Pope, "Carosa of Rome Shows Creations," The New York 
Times, July 24, 1954, p. 16. 

29. Eugenia Sheppard, "Countess Visconti Here With Collec cion tor 

Bergdorf Goodman," 'I'ht Xtu York Herald Tribune, November 14, 1951, 

p, 2d. 

30. "Italy Gets Dressed Up," p. no. 

51. Nan Robertson, "Happily Weil Fair ( ompete tor Rome's fashion 

Trade," Tht Neu York Times, October [9, 19S5, p. 37. 

32. Hope Johnson, "Business Makes Heart Grow Fonder, Neu York 
World Telegram and Sun, September 22, 1955, p. 20. 

33. "Italian Collections Notebook," p. 155. 

34. "Bonjour Paris, Addio Rome, Say Couture Duo," Women's Wear 
Daily , April ?, 1962, p. 1. 

35. Elissa Massai, "The Little-Big Story ol Italian Fashion," in Pia Sola, 
ed., Italia, the Genius oj Fashion (New York: fashion Institute ot 
Technology, 1985). 

36. "Dramatic Decade of Italian Style," Life, December 1. [961, 

pp. 66 — 69. Photographs and captions t out inue tor another ten pages. 

37. "The Men's Pages: Summer Basics from Italy," Vogue, April 1, [956, 
p. 100. 

38. "The Italian Man," Life, August 23, 1965, pp. 55, 56, 58. 

39. Kurt Loder, "Stardust Memories: The Rolling Stont Interview with 
David Bowie," Rolling Stone, April 23, 1987, p. 80. 

40. Colin Maclnnes, Absolutt Beginners (1959), quoted in Duk 
Hebdidge, Hiding in the Light (London: Routledge, 1988), p. no. 

41. "Battle of the Pitti Palace," Newsweek, August 2, 1965, p. 44. 

42. "Aha Moda, Italian Style," Time, January 29, 1965, p. 42. 

43. James Brady, Super Chic (Boston: Little Brown, 1974), p. 36. 

44. Quoted in Sola, p. 108. 

45. "Designer Is Jubilant as the Racks Are Emptied," The Neu York 
Times, March 19, 1968, p. 50. 

46. "Forquet in Anticipo," Women's Wear Daily, July 19, 1966, p. 14. 

47. Marilyn Bender, The Beautiful People (New York: Dell, 196-), p. 126. 

48. Brady, p. 36. 

49. "Galitzine Bankrupt," The New York Times, January 24, 1968, p. 40. 

50. Quoted in Silvia Giacomoni, The Italian Look- Reflected (Milan: 
Mazzotta, 1984), p. 104. 

51. See Valerie Steele, "The Italian Look: American Perceptions of 
Contemporary Italian Fashion," in Irma Jatfe, ed.. Insight ami 
Inspiration: The Italian Presence in American Art (New York and Rome: 
Fordham University Press and the Italian Encyclopedia Institute, in 

505 Valerit S/<iA 


Catalogue numbers 502-602 

Roberto Capucci 

Carosa {Giovanna Caraccioln di Avellino Giannetti) 

Alberto Fabiani 


Salvatore Ferragamo 

Federico Forquet 

Irene Galitzine 

Krizia (Mariuccia Mandelli) 

Pino Lancetti 

Germana Marucelli 


Emilia Pucci 

Wanda Rove da 

Mi la Schb'n 

Emilio Scbuberth 

Ken Scott 

Sorelle Fontana {Fontana Sisters) 

Valentino {Valentino Garavanij 

Jole Veneziani 

502. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, fall/winter 1956— S7- 
Silk faille. Galleria del Costume, 

503. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, 10 gonne do Skirts,) 
collection, spring/ summer 19^6. Silk 
taffeta. Roberto Capucci, Rome. 










504. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gou u. spring summer 1958. 
Silk- ga zui: Roberto Capucci, Rome. 

505. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gou n, Calla collection, lull 
winter ipj^—S7- Silk satin. Roberto 
Capucci, Rome. 




506. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, Crete collection, 
fall/winter 1952 w. Sill taffeta. 
Roberto Capucci, Rome. 

507. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, Scatola fBoxJ collection, 
fall winter igs$-s9- Silt tatined 
organza with u Ik-satin underskirt. 
Collection oj Consuelo Crespi, Rome. 

508. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gov. n, fall u inter 19^9 — 60. 
Silk taffeta and silk 111IU. uith velvet 
belt. Roberto Capucci, Rome. 

509. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, spring rummer 1961. 
Silk taffeta. Roberto Capucci, Rome. 

510. Roberto Capucci 

Pantsuit with poncho cape, spring/ 
summer 1961. Silk faille. Roberto 
Capucci, Rome. 

511. Roberto Capucci 

Evening gown, spring rummer 1961. 
Silk organza. Roberto Capucci, Rome. 

512. Carosa [Giovanna 
Caracciolo di Avellino Giannetti] 

Evening gown, fall u inti r 196}— 64. 
Silk organza embroidered with glass 
heads, paillettes, studs, pearls, crystals, 
and ostrich feathers. Umberto Tirelli. 

513. Alberto Fabiani 

winter 1968-69. Printed 
wool. Umberto Tirelli. Rome. 

514. Fendi 

Cloak, fall! winter 1967-68. Mole and 
nylon tulle. Fendi, Rome. 



515. Federico Forquet 

Dress and out. fall u inter 1967—68. 
Wool with inlaid decoration. Belonged 
to Anna Bozza. Galleria J J Costume, 

516. Federico Forquet 

Evening jumpsuit u ith boots, 
fall/it inter 1067-68. Silk chifi 
embroidered u itbpailletu r. Belonged 
to Giant Man hi Falck. Galleria del 
Cost mm. Florence. 

517. Federico Forquet 

Evening dress, fall u inter 106-—68. 
Silk crepon embroidered u ith pastt and 
glass beads. Belonged to Catherine 
Spaak. Galleria del Costume, Florence. 


518. Irene Galitzine 

P.d.izzo pajamas, spring! summer i960. 
Silk crept cm i red with glass-bead 
fringe. Irene Galitzine, Rome. 

519. Irene Galitzine 

Palazzo pajamas, fall u inter 1964—6$. 
Silk mikado jacket and pants, 
embroidered with plastic beads. In ne 
Galitzine. Rome. 

520. Irene Galitzine 

Palazzo pajamas, spring/summer i960. 
Silk mikado jacket and pants. Irene 
Galitzine. Rome. 







Preceding two pages: 

521. Krizia [Mariuccia Mandelli] 

Ei tiling outfit, fall it ink r 1964—6$. 
Silk crepe embroidered with glass beads, 
t, Milan. 

522. Krizia [Mariuccia Mandelli] 

ing outfit, Jail winter 1964-6$. 
Silk crepe embroidered with gla 

Krizia. Milan. 

523. Krizia [Mariuccia Mandelli] 

Em <ng outfit. Jail winter 1966-67. 
Silk crept t mbroidered u ith glass beads. 
Krizia. Milan. 

524. Krizia [Mariuccia Mandelli] 

Ei tiling outfit, fall ui a itf 1966—67. 
Silk crepe embroidi red u ith glass beads. 
Kri: :./. Milan. 

525. Pino Lancetti 

Ei t ning gown, fall wintt r 1962—6}. 
Silk moire'. Pino Lancetti, Rome. 

526. Pino Lancetti 

Evening goit n. fall u inh r 1965—64. 
\ 1 Ion tulh t mbroidt red u ith beads and 
paillettes. Created for Rom) Schneider. 
Pino Lancetti, Rome. 

527. Pino Lancetti 

Ei tning gown, fall u inter 1964 — 6$. 
Silk grosgrain and nlk-and-viscose 
velvet, embroidered with beads and 
trimmings. Pino Lancetti, Rome. 

528. Pino Lancetti 

Evening dress. Jail u inh r 1966-67. 
Silk organza embroidered with beads 
and paillettes. Belonged to Catherint 
Spaak. Galleria del Costume, Florence. 

529. Germana Marucelli 

Dress, earl) rp$os. Silk taffeta with 
handpainted designs b) Giuseppt 
Capogrossi. Collection oj Giancarlo 
Calza. Milan. 

530. Germana Marucelli 

Dress, earl) ig^os. Silk taffeta with 
handpainted designs by Giuseppt 
Capogrossi. Collection oj Giancarlo 

Calza. Milan. 

531. Germana Marucelli 

Evening dress, earl) 1960s. Silk organza 
with designs b) Giuseppt Capogrossi, 
embroidered with paillettes. I 'mberto 
Tirelli, Rome. 

532. Germana Marucelli 

Evening dress, Totem collection, 

tall winter 106- -OS. Silk organza 
embroidered with paillettes. Collection 
of Giancarlo Calza. Milan. 

533. Germana Marucelli, 

in collaboration with Getulio 

Armor outfit. Alluminio (Aluminumj 
collection, fall/winter 1968-69. 
Aluminum vest and silk-crepe Moroccan 
culottes. Collection ofSusi Giusti, 

534. Germana Marucelli, 

in collaboration with Getulio 

Armor outfit. Alluminio (Aluminum,) 
collection, fall winter, 1968—69. 
Polished-leather and aluminum bodict . 
wool shorts with aluminum disks, and 
ostrich-feather vest. Collection of 
Giancarlo Calza. Milan. 




535. Missoni 

Three-piece kimono-style outfit, 
spring! summer 1968. Knitted rayon 
tulle. Missoni, Milan. 

536. Missoni 

Tunic and skirt, spring summer 1968. 

Knitted rayon tulh. Missoni, Milan. 

537. Missoni 

Mnlnff top and \kirt, spring! summer 
1968. Knitted rayon tulle. Missoni, 



538. Emilio Pucci 

Ei i ning gown, Palio collect nm. 
spring summer 1957. Cotton poplin 
printed with symbols o] tin Palio of 
Siena. Emilio Pucci, Florence. 

539. Emilio Pucci 

Evening outfit, spring/summer ipso. 
Silk-twill top printed with Padiglione 
(Pavilion) design', silk-jersey skirt. 
Emilio Pucci, Florence. 

540. Emilio Pucci 

Evening gown, Palio collection, 
spring summer 19<;~. Cotton poplin 
printed with symbols of the Palio of 
Siena. Emilio Pucci. Florence. 






Preceding two pages: 

541. Emilio Pucci 

Ei tiling outfit. Gochic Line collation. 
spring/summer 196}. Silk-chiffon top 
printed with Manna 'Marine; design 
and embroidered with paillettes; silk- 
cady skirt. Emilio Pucci, Florence. 

542. Emilio Pucci 

Evening gou n. Vivace I Lively; 
collection, spring/summer 1967. Silk 
chiffon printed with Lance design and 
embroidered with studs and rhinestones. 

Emilio Pucci. Florence. 

543. Emilio Pucci 

Ei t ning pantsuit, spring summer 1967. 
Silk chiffon printed with Bangkok 
design and embroidered with Swaroi tki 
lis. Emilio Pucci, Florence. 

544. Emilio Pucci 

Ei ening gown, fill u inter 1967. Silk 
chiffon printed with Giacinti 
("Hyacinth; design and t mbroidi red 
u itb Swarovski crystals. Emilio Pucci. 

545. Emilio Pucci 

Jumpsuit, Vivace ( Lively ) collection, 

spring! summer 1967. Silk chiffon printed 
u ah Menelik design and embroidered 
with Swaroi iki crystals. Emilio Pucci, 

546. Emilio Pucci 

Mini 1 ; 1 ning drt ts, tpring summt r 
1968. Silk chiffon printed with Occhi 

I design and 1 mbroidered with 
Swaroi \ki crystals. Emilio Pum. 

547. Emilio Pucci 

/>'<,/) tuit, fall u inter 1968-69. Lycra 
jersey printed with Vivara d ugn. 

Emilio Pucci. Florence. 


548. Wanda Rove da 

Bridal gown, tyring summer 1967. 
Shantung silk with silk-organza petals 

tin veil. W'jinLi RmxJj. Milan. 


549. Mila Schon 

Ei tiling gown, fall winter 1966—67. 
Silk georgettt embroidt red u ith gla 1 1 
beads, silver beads, and gold beads. 
Mila Schon, Milan. 

550. Mila Schon 

Evening gown, fall/winter 1966-67. 
Nylon tulle embroidered with glass 
beads, silver beads, and gold beads. 
Madt for Gioia Marchi Falck. 

Galli ria del Cost 1/ nit. Florence. 


551. Emilio Schuberth 

Evening gown, fall/winter 1951—52. 
Silk satin embroidered with silk. 
mt tallic thread, glass beads, and 
rhinestones. Gabriella Lo Faro. Rome. 

552. Emilio Schuberth 

Evening gown, spring/summer 1951. Silk 
satin appliquid and embroidered with 
silk and glass beads. Gabriella Lo 
faro. Rome. 

554. Emilio Schuberth 

Cocktail dnss. spring/summer 1955. 
Silk taffeta. Sartoria Faram. Rome. 

555. Emilio Schuberth 

Evening dress. Solare (Solar) collection. 
spring! summer 1957. Pleated silk 
chiffon, with silk-grosgrain hem and 
skirt. Belonged to Gina Lollobrigida. 
Galleria del Costume. Florence. 

553. Emilio Schuberth 

Evening gown, spring/summer 195$. 
Silk organza with silk and raffia 
decorations. G.P. 11. Rome. 





556. Ken Scott 

Evening gown, spring summer 1967. Silk 
jt rst \ t mbroidered with paillettt s; 
ostrich-feather boa. Km Scott. Milan. 

557. Ken Scott 

Evening suit, spring summer 1967. 
Ban/on jersey embroidered with 
paillettes. Umberto Tirelli, Rome. 

558. Ken Scott 

Evening suit, Circo (Circusj collection, 

fall winter 1968—69. CottVH-JtlM) 

gown; silk-georgette cape with feathers. 
Ken Scott, Milan. 

559. Ken Scott 

Evening suit, Circo (Circus,/ collection, 

fall winter 1968-69. Banlon-jerse) 
gown; silk-georgette capt with feathers. 
Km Scott, Mi/an. 

560. Ken Scott 

Evening gown, Circo (Circus,) 
collection, jail winter 1968-69. Sill 
jersey embroidt red it ith paillettt s; 
ostrich-feather boa. Collection of Susan 
Nevelsrm. Florence. 


561. Sorelle Fontana 
[Fontana Sisters] 

Evening gown, fall/winter 1951— $2. Silk 
georgtt/t appliqued with lai e and embroidered 
u nl) paillettes. Galleria del Cost 11 mi', 

562. Sorelle Fontana 
[Fontana Sisters] 

Evening gown, fall/winter 19$}- 54. Silk crepe 
linedwitb ulk chiffon. Belonged to Beatrice di 
Torlonia. Sorelle Fontana, Rome. 





563. Sorelle Fontana 
[Fontana Sisters] 

Cocktail dress with hat, Cardinale 
(Cardinal J collection, spring mmmer 
iy<;6. Wool-and-silk blend. Belonged to 
Ava Gardner. Sorelli Fontana, Rome. 

564. Sorelle Fontana 
[Fontana Sisters] 

(, ock i. nl dress, ip6i. Silt- crept and silk 
tatin. Madt for Elizabeth Taylor. 
Sorelle Fontana, Rome. 

565. Sorelle Fontana 
[Fontana Sisters] 

Evening gown, ca. iu6s. Silk satin Innd 
with crinoline, organdy, and silk satin, 
and embroidered u ith paillettes. 
Collection »/ Flaminia Marignoli, 

RtllllL . 


566. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening gown and cape, fall! winter 
1965-66. Silk-cady gown and silk-tulle 
cape covered with ostrich feathers and 
embroidered with stones. Valentino, 

567. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Ei\ inng gown, fall/winter 1967-68. 
Silk crepe. Collection of A. Vanderbilt. 
New York. 

568. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening gown, spring/summer 1959. Silk 
tulle. Valentino. Rome. 





569. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening gown, Octimista (Optimist,) 
collection, spring summer 1963. Silk 
IjiIU and silk organ a. Belonge, 
Gaed Pallavicini. Museo Fortuny, 

570. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening suit, spring summer 1963. 5 
cad) dresi u ith satin bou : jacket in 
zebra-printed horsehidt embroidi red 
with beads and paste. Valentino, Rome. 

571. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening gown, spring summer 1966. 
Cotton-poplin drt 1 1 printed u ith 
Giraffe design; silk-georgetti hooded 
pantsuit. Valentino, Rome. 

572. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Palazzo pajamas, spring summer 1066. 
Silk crepe. Collection 0] Princess 
huciana Pignatelli, Rome. 

573. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Evening suit, spring summer 1966. 
Cotton-poplin top; cotton-poplin pants 
with silk-crepe bow. Valentino, Rome. 

574. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Palazzo pajamas, spring/summer 1967. 
Silk chiffon and silk crepe. Valentino, 


575. Valentino 
[Valentino Garavani] 

Palazzo pajamas, spring! summer 1066. 
Silk crape. Valentino, Rome. 

576. Jole Veneziani 
Evening gown, fall/winter ivs7-^8. 
Silk damask embroidered with glass 
beads and paillettes. Federico Bano, 



577. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal, 1947. Nylon-thread 
and kid uppt. r, kid-cot ered wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S. p. A., Florence. 



Preceding three pages: 

578. Salvatore Ferragamo 
Sandal, 1942—44. Cellophane upper; 
cotton-covered cork heel. Salvatore 

I\rragamo S.p.A., Florence. 

579. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1942-44. Won //-raffia 
upper; painted U nod he i I. Sail a ton 
Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

580. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Shoe. 1942-44. Suede-patchwork 
upper: suede-covered cork heel. Salvatore 

Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

581. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Arabesca (Arabesque,) sandal. 
1944-45. Suede upper with hid toe: 
kid-covered wood heel. Salvatore 
Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

582. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1944. Hemp upper; kid-covered 
cork heel. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A., 


583. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal, 194- Nylon-thread 

and kid upper: kid-cot 1 red wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

584. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal, 104-. Nylon-thread 
andcalj upper; calf-covered wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

585. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal. 194 7. Nylon-thread 
and calf upper: kid-covered wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

586. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal, 194'. Nylon-thread 
and kid upper; kid-covered wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A., Florence. 

587. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1948-50. Kid-and-vinyl 

upper: kid-covered wood heel. Salvatore 
Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

588. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Goccia (Drop,/ mule. 1948-50. 
Suede upper decorated. with kid ami 

embroidered U tth silk thread: kid- 
covered wood heel. Salvatore 
I : i rragamo S.p. A . . Flore tie l . 

589. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1950- $2. Tavarnelle- lace upper 

decorated with sequins: plastic-lamina- 
covered wood heel decorated with paste. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

590. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Kimo sandal. 1050-52. Kid upper; 
kid-covered wood heel Saliatnn 

Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

591. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1950—52. Tavarnelle-lace upper 
decorated with sequins and with mica 
lining: satin-covered u ood heel. 
Designed for Anna Magnani. Salvatore 

Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

592. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Vitrea (VitreousJ \andal, 1952-54. 
Vinyl upper decorated with glass beads; 
kid-covered wood heel. Salvatore 

Ferragamo S.p. A . . Flore in t . 

593. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1955. Silk-brocade uppe >: 

mica heel. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. 

594. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Damigella ( DamselJ pull-over, 
I 9S$-$6. Elasticized-silk upper; 
kid-covered wood IkJ. Salvatore 

Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

595. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Cassandra sandal. 1955-56. Satin 
upper; satin-covered heel decorated with 
paste. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. 

596. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal, rptf \(>. Tavarnelle-lace upper 
embroidered with silk thread and 
Murano beads; calf-covered wood heel. 
Salvatore Ferragamo S.p. A., Florence. 

597. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Calypso sandal, 19^5- 50. Satin upper: 
brass heel. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. 

598. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Pump. 1958-59. Crocodile upper: 
crocodile-cove red wood-and-metal heel. 
Designed for Marilyn Monroe. 

Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

599. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Court shoe, 1958-59- Suede-and-kid 

upper; kid-tovered wood-and-metal 
heel. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. 

600. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Court shoe. 1958—59. Suede-and-kid 

upper: suede -covered wood-and-metal 
heel. Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. 

601. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Sandal. 1959—60. Calf upper: calf- 
covered wood-and-metal heel. Salvatore 

Ferragamo S.p.A.. Florence. 

602. Salvatore Ferragamo 

Invisible sandal, ivr Nylon-thread 
and suede upper; suede-covered wood 
heel. Salvatort i ■ S.p.A., 



Reconstructing a History 

entire disinformed generation when we first started at the 
School of Architecture was to go back from this rough data 
Vlttorio Gregotti an d tr y to begin to understand, distinguish, and judge. 

What small bits of information could be gleaned about the 
period between the two world wars usually concerned, 
somewhat confusedly, the roles of Futurism and 
Rationalism — on the one hand with magazines like 
Casabella (House beautiful)' and Q/iadrante (Quadrant), on 
the other with publications like Architettura (Architecture), 
which tried to reconcile academia, moderation, and 
modernity of style. They all seemed at odds with one 
another over the representation of Fascism. Although 
relations between Rationalism and the regime in the 
preceding years had been ambiguous, this fact was 
redeemed in our eyes by the widespread participation of 
Rationalist architects in the Resistance, and more remotely, 
by the mythic figure of Edoardo Persico. 

Through these initial schemas, we students managed to 
stitch together a history; we reconstructed the tradition of 
modernity in Italy. It was a tendentious reconstruction, yes, 
but it enabled us to take our first naive steps toward the 
idea of actual reconstruction, for there were still enemies 
who had to be fought. Architecture departments in the 
Italian universities had, moreover, remained firmly in the 
hands of those we dismissed as "academics." What seemed 
most interesting to us occurred outside of their purview. 
As students, we used to read the review Domus — edited by 
Ernesto Nathan Rogers from 1946 to 1947 — which taught 
us not only to orient ourselves about what was happening 
outside Italy but also helped us to understand how 
architecture was part of a culture and to appreciate its 
collective responsibilities. Over the course of a few issues, 
Casabella published the AR (Architetti Riuniti) plan for 
Milan (1944, presented 1945), which had been worked out 
during the Resistance and was based on the principles of 
the struggle against speculation, respect for the historic 
center of the city, and the indispensibility of regional 
interrelationships. In the period right after the war 
Giovanni Michelucci had proposed a project (1945) in the 
same spirit, which was never realized, for the 
reconstruction of the area around the Ponte Vecchio in 
Florence. News from Rome came through the review 
Metron, founded by Bruno Zevi, in which he began to 
speak of "organic architecture." With the goal of spreading 
this idea, the APAO (Associazione per l'Architettura 
Organica/Association for Organic Architecture) was 
founded, in opposition to the Milanese MSA (Movimento 
di Studi per L'Architettura/Movement of Studies for 
Architecture), which was Rationalist by tradition. Indeed, 
relations between Rome and Milan were characterized by 
mutual suspicion, given the differing cultural traditions. 
Only Mario Ridolfi and Ludovico Quaroni's project (with 
others) for the competition for the passenger terminal of 
Stazione Termini (1947, cat. no. 609) and Quaroni's church 
in the Prenestino quarter (1947, cat. no. 610), both in Rome, 
had aroused interest in Milan. Milan's monument to the 
fallen in German concentration camps (1946, cat. no. 605) 
by BBPR [Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico 
Peressutti, and Rogers] 2 and Rome's monument to the 
Ardeatine caves massacre (1944-47, cat. nos. 603, 604) by 
Mario Fiorentino, Giuseppe Perugini, and colleagues, both 
projects very much admired, give a very good sense of the 

558 Architecture 

different figurative sensibilities of the two cities. 

In 1948 many of us students of architecture worked as 
volunteers on the VIII Triennale, the "Triennale della 
ricostruzione" (Reconstruction triennial), headed by Piero 
Bottoni. This event witnessed the first realizations of the 
experimental quarter of low-cost housing at San Siro (see 
cat. no. 607), on the outskirts of Milan, next to the 
artificial hill built from the rubble of the destruction 
wrought upon the city by the bombings. 

In those years there came across our desks such 
"Modern" textbooks as the one by Irenio Diotallevi and 
Franco Marescotti, ll problema soctale, economico e construttivo 
dell'abitazione (The social, economic, and construction 
problem of housing, 1948), which informed us as to what 
had been done in Europe between the two world wars, and 
the Manuale dell'architetto (The architect's manual, 1946), a 
compendium of details of construction, at the highest 
technological levels, of Italian building production, a kind 
of "vernacular Esperanto" that among other things was the 
basis for the neorealist experience of the early 1950s. After 
1948 and the political defeat of the Left, the review // 
politecnico (Polytechnic), founded by Elio Vittorini, whose 
editorial staff I associated with, came into conflict with the 
directives of the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian 
Communist Party), which had adopted a position contrary 
to the avant-garde tradition. This had a considerable effect 
on architecture as well. 

We students had some lively cultural organizations that, 
unlike the universities, invited notable figures from the 
international cultural scene to give lectures and attempted 
to bring architecture students from the different Italian 
schools into contact with one another. I believe I was 
attending my fourth year at the School of Architecture 
(which to me seemed particularly ramshackle; Giovanni 
Muzio was teaching urbanism there, but at the time we 
saw him as our cultural enemy) when Richard Neutra 
came to give a lecture. Introducing him was a stylish, 
brilliant man, Giuseppe De Finetti. Certain connections 
were beginning to become clear to me: first of all, the 
names of the great Austrian emigres who had gone to 
America — Frederick Kiesler, Adolf Loos, who had been 
De Finetti's teacher, Neutra, and Rudolph Schindler — and 
the position of certain figures of the moderate avant-garde 
of the Novecento movement. De Finetti, aside from editing 
a small review, La citta architettura epolitica (The city. 
Architecture and politics), was putting forward, 
unbenownst to most, a series of proposals (see cat. no. 606) 
for the reconstruction of Milan that would prove more 
realistic than the AR plan, which was immediately shelved 
by the institutional powers. At that time — somewhat out 
of an unjust hatred of school — I went to seek work at 
BBPR, which at the time was a studio with a great 
international reputation where one could meet the likes of 
Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, and Le Corbusier or artists 
like Alexander Calder and Saul Steinberg. They assigned 
me some research on medieval towers, and it was not until 
some time later that I discovered my work was going 
toward their Torre Velasca project (1950-58, cat. no. 657). 

The cultural restlessness that the Torre Velasca project 
manifested in its search for a connection with the city's 
historical memory was certainly not an isolated case: 
Franco Albini and Luigi Colombini, with the Pirovano 

lodge project (1949-51, cat. no. 626); [gnazio Gardella with 
his house of a viticulturist (1945-46, cat. no. 608); 
Michelucci with the Pistoia mercantile exchange (1949-50, 
cat. no. 623); and BBPR with their house on via Bigli (1948) 
in Milan, all resumed a "national path" to Rationalism that 
had already been started in the late 19 }os. 

I also remember the admiration I and others had at tin 
time for the rigor of Mario Asnago and Claudio Vender, for 
Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini's office and apartment 
building on via Broletto (1947—48, cat. no. 621) in Milan, 
for the sublime solution of Franco Albini's Palazzo Bianco 
museum (1950-51, cat. no. 628) in Genoa, and for the 
Harar quarter (1951) by Gio Ponti and Figini and Polhni 
(see cat. no. 622) in Milan. These architects inspired our 
curiosity and admiration as students, especially in the wa) 
they compared to the great figures of Italian Rationalism of 
the 1930s — in particular, Giuseppe Terragni, whose 
colleague Pietro Lingeri, still active in the 1950s, was one <>l 
the supporters, upon my graduation, of my admission into 
the MSA. 

Turin, at this time, remained a rather separate cultural 
entity, and despite all the promotion made in their favor by 
Ponti, who succeeded Rogers as editor of Domus in 1948, 
the ingenious designs and works of Carlo Mollino, such as 
the Lago Nero sled-lift lodge (1946—47, cat. no. 613), had 
little success in Milan. On the other hand, Adriano 
Olivetti— because of his long history as an industrialist 
interested in Modern architecture and design and his 
interest in urbanism— was a great influence on the Milanese 
architects of the time. He was one of the key figures in the 
foundation of the INU (Istituto Nazionale cli 
Urbanistica/National Institute of Urbanism), and for main 
years he financed the review Urbanistica (Urbanism), edited 
by Giovanni Astengo. The INU was a strong binding force 
of national culture, where urbanists from northern Italy 
could clash and conduct a cultural as well as disciplinary 
battle with Romans such as Luigi Piccinato and Ludovico 
Quaroni, and where the older generation could confront 
such younger minds as Giuseppe Campos, Pierluigi 
Cervellati, Piero Moroni, and Vittorini. The Olivetti group 
also published the review Comunita (Community), which 
in those years boasted a group of positively first-rate 
contributors. They were intellectuals of various 
backgrounds and disciplines bound by radical, lav political 
convictions often of Gobettian extraction ( Piero Gobetti 
was the most noteworthy theoretician of liberal socialism 
in the 1930s). All of them were striving toward a 
modernization of the country that would be at once 
anti-Fascist and anti-ideological, though in the end their 
ideas proved to have little political weight. 

In the 1950s the number of works commissioned In 
Olivetti was quite considerable. Luigi ( osenza built him 
the Pozzuoli factory (commenced [951, cat. no. 634), using a 
kind of architecture that expressively presents t he- 
workplace as .i site- ol sik ialization. At [vrea tin- complex ol 
social buildings (1954—57, cat . no. 635) was designed In 
Figini and P0II1111 (see- also 1 at. no. 633), who had been 
Olivetti's arc hite( ts in the- [930s .is well; the- <. ate ten. 1 lor 
( Wivetti employees ( m)ss s>), cat. no. 637) was tin work ot 
Gardella; and the- sen u es * enter <b)S2 55) was by a then 
very young Eduardo Vittoria. Marco Zanuso built tin 
two ( )livetti factories at Sao Paulo (1954 59, cat. no. 681) 

559 Vittorio Gregotti 

and Buenos Aires (1954-62, cat. no. 682—84). 

In addition, the introduction of the American school of 
sociology contributed more than a little to the cultural 
choices presiding over the realization of the La Martella 
village (1951 — 54, cat. nos. 618, 619), designed by Quaroni's 
group — one of the noblest examples, despite its lack of 
practical success, of the attempt to recuperate the 
communal values of rural culture. It was a response, 
however unstructural, to the great "southern question," 
which was returning quite dramatically as a subject of 
debate at that time. 

Of course by the early 1950s a great many figures who 
had been culturally compromised by their roles in the old 
regime had already returned to their command posts, 
including Marcello Piacentini, who was carrying out his 
senseless plan for the new via della Conciliazione (1947 — 51) 
in Rome. The DC (Democrazia Cristiana/Christian 
Democratic party) had promoted its integration, just as 
with their seven-year plan for subsidizing low-cost housing 
they had promoted a policy of dispersive initiatives that 
was not backed up by any urban plan of containment. 
What was actually taking shape was a policy of building 
reconstruction aimed entirely at keeping unemployment 
down and at accumulating capital. 

In 1951, shortly before my graduation, I was called on to 
take part in preparing the exhibition of the Italian group at 
CIAM (Congres Internationaux de l'Architecture Moderne/ 
International Congress of Modern Architecture) VIII, held 
at Hoddesdon, near London; the theme of the conference 
was "the urban core." Beyond my personal good fortune in 
having a chance to meet the great figures of the Modern 
movement at CIAM VIII (I had already, in 1947, worked a 
short time in Auguste Perret's studio in Paris), this event 
was also an initial indication of the difficulty my 
generation would have in opening itself up to the 
international scene. 

There were not many architectural books circulating in 
Italy in the 1950s nor were there many direct contacts with 
such masters as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, 
Frank Lloyd Wright, or Aalto, yet their influence was great, 
even though it was still pretty much a synthesis of the 
overall vision we had of them. After I graduated, Rogers, 
who was clearly the most prominent figure in Italian 
architectural culture in the 1950s and 1960s, asked me to 
work with him and Giancarlo De Carlo and Zanuso on the 
new incarnation of CasabelLt, then named Casabella 
continuita (House beautiful continuity), of which he was 
Editor in Chief from 1953 to 1964, and as his assistant at 
Milan's School of Architecture, where he had finally 
succeeded in becoming a professor. De Carlo, who soon 
thereafter would quit the editorial staff after disagreements 
over the direction of the magazine, was a man of 
exceptional charm and intelligence, as his subsequent 
career would demonstrate (see cat. no. 655). 

The review's first issue published works of Gardella and 
Ridolfi. Gardella, in the early 1950s, had built some of his 
finest works: the residential building for Borsalino 
employees (1950-52, cat. nos. 641, 642) in Alessandria, the 
Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea (1949-53) in Milan, and 
the restructuring of the Regina Isabella baths (1950-53, 
cat. no. 629) on the island of Ischia. No discussion of 
Gardella, however, can fail to mention the contributions of 

560 Architecture 

Luigi Caccia Dominioni, an architect whose role as link 
between neoclassicism — the tradition of the Novecento 
movement — and international Modernism would reveal 
itself to be increasingly important; Dominioni also defined 
some of the linguisitic elements that would become rather 
widespread in the Milanese building industry of the 1960s. 
I remember Casabella's publication of Dominioni's Beata 
Vergine Addolorata convent and girl's school (1946-54, 
cat. no. 638) and his Loro Parisini office building (1955, 
cat. nos. 639, 640), both in Milan. Later, throughout the 
1960s, he did a great many buildings in the historic streets 
of Milan (see cat. no. 644). 

Yet it was above all Casabella that first opened the 
discussion about the phenomenon of neorealism in 
architecture-or rather, the discussion about what might be 
called an aspiration to reality, which is a constant in all the 
different forms of Italian architecture throughout the 1950s. 
The form it assumed in northern Italy was that of an 
aspiration to the social-democratic models of northern 
Europe, as in the case (aside from Gardella's projects) of 
such projects as the Falchera quarter (ca. 1950, cat. no. 616), 
in Turin, by Giovanni Astengo's group, or the low-cost 
housing neighborhood of Cesate (1951), near Milan, by 
Albini, Gianni Albricci, Belgiojoso, Gardella, Peressutti, 
and Rogers; it also assumed forms of modernization related 
to the first symptoms of a nascent consumer society, as in 
the Triennale's efforts to move toward a culture of 
industrial design. As for the subsidized housing industry, 
we had moved, due especially to the pressure of the INU, 
toward an attempt at coordinated interventions, which led, 
for better or worse, to a series of projects, throughout the 
1950s, on the neighborhood scale rather than for individual 
buildings. Among these the most noteworthy were the 
Forte Quezzi neighborhood project (1956-58, cat. no. 715) 
by Luigi Carlo Daneri and colleagues in Genoa; Adalberto 
Libera's project at the Tuscolano in Rome; and the via 
Cavedone quarter (1957) in Bologna, which was perhaps the 
most convincing response, in its own terms, to the scale 
and conditions of the intervention. 

In Rome and south-central Italy, the aspiration to reality 
found its forms of expression in the representation of a 
national-populist path toward socialism. The descriptive 
art media— painting, literature, and cinema— had already 
provided an image of this reality. Without the feelings 
implicit in this background, it would be difficult to 
explain the generous efforts made by the Quaroni and 
Ridolfi group for the project for the INA-Casa (Istituto 
Nazionale Abitazioni-Casa/National Housing 
Institute— Casa) complex on via Tiburtino (1949 — 54, 
cat. no. 611) in Rome. Ridolfi and Wolfgang Frankl's 
INA-Assicurazioni residential towers on viale Etiopia 
(1950-54, cat. no. 614) in Rome and their INA-Casa 
complex in Cerignola (1950, cat. no. 612) were for my 
generation two of the most intense architectural works of 
that period; they best expressed an attempt to find tin 
roots and specificity of an experience of modernity 
consistent with the new themes of the progress ive parties of 
the Left. 

My generation came onto the scene during these years. 
The group gathered around Casabella was influenced by 
many factors: a constant eye on the international debate, 
the reading of Marxist thought from a 

point of view, Theodor Adorno's critique of consumer 
society, and a critical reflection upon the modern tradition 
of using history and theory as structural materials in 
planning. Giulio Carlo Argan's book, Walter Gropiui ed il 
Bauhaus (Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus, 1951) had a 
tremendous influence on us. Along these lines, I had begun 
in 1953 to design a residential building for Bossi textile- 
workers (1953-56, cat. no. 651) and a number of interiors; 
Gae Aulenti had built a villa (1957, cat. no. 647) in San 
Siro, on the outskirts of Milan; and around the same tunc 
in Turin, Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro [sola (see cat. 
no. 643) as well as Giorgio Raineri (see cat. no. 645) were 
working on their buildings with a more pronounced sense 
of memory and nostalgia. By the end of the 1950s, Paolo 
Portoghesi (already for some time connected with the Turin 
group) had given his first comprehensive interpretation of 
the phenomenon in two essays: "Dal neorealismo al 
neoliberty" (From neorealism to neoliberty, 195K), published 
in Comunitk, and 'Architettura e ambiente tecnico" 
(Architecture and technical environment, i960), published 
in Zodiac. 

The influence of this critical radicalization was, I 
believe, of equally great importance for those whom we 
continued to admire and to consider our masters. In the 
years that immediately followed, Gardella completed the 
Cicogna house on the Zattere (1953 — 58, cat. no. 654) in 
Venice; Albini and Franca Helg, the treasury museum of 
San Lorenzo (1952-56, cat. nos. 630, 631) in Genoa and 
La Rinascente department store (1957—61, cat. nos. 659. 
660) in Rome; BBPR, the Torre Velasca (1950-58, cat. 
nos. 656, 657) and the beautiful renovation and installation 
of the museums of Castello Sforzesco (1954-56, cat. 
no. 658), both in Milan. These buildings, of course, were all 
more complex, mature, and successful than our youthful 
efforts, and in them one sensed the will to go beyond all 
forms of populism in an attempt to bring the discourse to 
the root of the place that history and tradition were 
supposed to occupy in the methodology of the modern. 

Also involved in this debate, though in a different 
manner, were the Roman architects: Quaroni — who with 
his constant pessimism was the most thoughtful of the 
group — with his house at Genoa (1956; see also cat. no. 
662); Giusepppe Samona — who in the meantime had 
opened up the IUAV (Istituto Universitario d'Architettura 
di Venezia) to the protagonists of the Modern movement in 
Italy — with his INAIL (Istituto Nazionale Assicura/ionc 
Infortuni sul Lavoro/lnstitute of National Disability 
Insurance) office building in San Simeone (1050 56, < at. no. 
664) in Venice; and Saveno Muraton with his ENPA.s < 1 tit c 
Nazionale Previclen/a Artisti dello Spettacolo National 
Performing Artists Security Organization) office building 
(1952-57, cat. no. 646) in Bologna. The influence ol 
Muratori's research in the area of urban analysis would be 
felt most by the mid-1960s. Samona built the last 
buildings of Ins "palazzata a marc (palazzata on tin sea, 
1953—58, cat. no. 660 m Messina using a Perretian 
vocabulary that particularly interested me because around 
the same- time- I was i onstnic ting what was perhaps tin 
first building in It al\ to use- pretabru ated ( urtain panels 
with many stylistic elements deriving from tin Ferret 
Brothers [AugUSte ami ( fustave IVrrct }. This langua 
with its c I car distinction between Strut tun an. I ontt nt . 

j6i Vittorio < ■ ■ 


had been used in previous years by BBPR and by Albini 
(for example, in his INA [Istituto Nazionale 
Assicurazioni/National Insurance Institute} office building 
[1950-52, cat. no. 627} in Parma) and then became rather 
widespread as the common language of properly modern 
construction in the north-central region of Italy. 

In 1955 the MSA broached the question of the critique of 
Modernism in a lively and at times dramatic debate in 
which some of its membership refused to accept so radical 
a revision. Ponti (who had never been accepted into the 
MSA) took advantage of this conflict to present himself as a 
defender of the International Style with his interesting 
project (with others) for the Pirelli skyscraper (1956-61, 
cat. no. 674) in Milan. In those years, the generation that 
fell between us youngsters and the older masters was 
beginning to establish itself in an original manner, giving 
expression to a possible accord with a popular majority that 
had by now ceased to reject Modernism. Vittoriano Vigano 
built the headquarters for the combined Marchiondi 
Spagliardi and child welfare institutes (1953-57, cat. 
nos. 675, 676) in the style of international "brutalism." Vico 
Magistretti used a similar style in his building on via 
Leopardi (i960; see also cat. no 679) in Milan, as did 
Zanuso when he designed a series of office buildings (1958), 
also in Milan. 

Also belonging to this world, which reflected the 
themes under passionate debate during those years, were 
such great and internationally well-known figures as 
the engineers Antonio Nervi, Pier Luigi Nervi (see cat. 
nos. 665, 666), Riccardo Morandi (see cat. nos. 669, 670), 
and Silvano Zorzi (cat. no. 668). The building of the 
superhighways, the autostrade; the i960 Olympic games in 
Rome; and the 1961 Exposition at Turin were among the 
many opportunities to which the abilities of Italian 
Rationalist engineering could apply itself, while it also was 
realizing great works all over the world. 

Propelled by the desire for a renewed language, a 
number of works of considerable stylistic elegance had been 
produced in the early 1950s in Milan, such as Luigi 
Moretti's palazzine (a building type that later became very 
widespread in Rome) and Luciano Baldessari's experiments 
at the Breda pavilion (1952, cat. no. 625). These are in any 
case examples that had very little influence on my own 
generation, which was interested in more structural 
questions, on the levels both of theory and of political and 
urbanistic involvement — an involvement that was 
desperately attempting to obtain more free spaces, more 
green spaces, more services, in short, a control over the 
social use of the terrain. 

One should bear in mind that Italy went from a 
production of 543,000 rooms in 1951 to nearly 2 million 
rooms by 1961, with an annual growth of 12 percent as 
compared to an industrial growth of 8.2 percent and a 
predicted increase, by the government, of 5 percent in 
annual revenue. This growth made it necessary to 
undertake an energetic defense of the land and the historic 
patrimony. The Italia Nostra (Our Italy) association was 
founded in 1955; the conferences of the INU (such as the 
one at Gubbio in i960) were also devoted to this problem, 
though they never managed to reach any kind of agreement 
with the governing or legislative powers. Such efforts 
would have to wait until the late 1960s before finding, as 

562 Architecture 

they did in the example of Bologna, a normative and 
methodological system with a number of small examples of 
urban restoration interventions. This too was the result of 
the studies initiated in the 1950s by Muratori and his 
group; the early 1950s Rogersian theme of contextually 
preexisting buildings was shifting to the level of the 
structure of the city. 

Between the late 1950s and early 1960s we all had the 
feeling that the foundations of our work were changing. 
The need to think on a scale of broader, more 
comprehensive intervention was growing along with the 
complexity of functions and exigencies dictated by the 
modernization of the country. At the same time, however, 
the sense of the city's importance as the central locus of 
development and control was also growing. Corresponding 
to this on the level of national politics was the formation of 
a government open to the Socialists; the need to spur 
economic and physical development through scheduling, 
regional planning, and the formation of research institutes 
for land development; and the attempt to produce new 
plans for Italy's cities, including Rome. The last project 
failed, but by the end of the decade it had yielded a 
proposal for a system of management offices, traces of 
which still exist today. 

These interests also had a considerable effect in the 
sphere of the architectural project, especially through the 
great competitions for vast and complex commissions, such 
as that for the neighborhood on the sandbanks of San 
Giuliano (1959, cat. no. 661) in Venice, which proved to be a 
great opportunity for Quaroni's group to design a project of 
exceptional quality. Elsewhere, the competitions for the 
management districts of Bologna and Turin began to bring 
out the younger architects of my own generation: Carlo 
Aymonino, Guido Canella, Aldo Rossi (see cat. no. 704), 
among others. 

"Opulent urbanism" had, however, its theoretical 
foundations in the book by Samona, Lurbanistica e 
I'avvenire della cittk (Urbanism and the future of the city, 
1959), which reaffirmed, as had been done at the INU 
conference of the same year at Lecce, the principle of the 
inseparability of architecture and urbanism. Then 
appeared Leonardo Benevolo's Storia dell'architettura 
(History of architecture, i960), which followed Zevi's 
history, published in 1950, and laid down the technical 
bases for a call to order in the Rationalist manner, an 
appeal that found expression in a number of the projects 
submitted to the competition for the new Biblioteca di 
Roma (1957) and in the establishment of the SAU (Societa 
di Architettura ed Urbanistica/Society of Architecture and 
Urbanism), also in Rome. 

Another aspect of the change that took place in the early 
1960s was the critique made of the relationship between 
ideology and language by the neo-avant-garde movement 
in the fields of literature and music. This found its visual 
manifesto in the introductory section of the XIII Triennale, 
in 1964 (see also cat. no. 705). On that occasion, Nanni 
Balestrini, Luciano Berio, Tinto Brass, Umberto Eco, 
Achille Perilli, and Massimo Vignelli worked together with 
my group on a critical presentation of the problem of free 
time and consumer society, where the system of positions 
and relations, the heterogeneity and polysemy of materials, 
and the theatricalization of space all contributed to the 

construction of a physical environment of particular 

intensity. As Manfredo Tafuri wrote many years Liter, "In 
the new vision of the avant-gardists there was no nostalgia 
for the irrational but rather a recognition of the new forms 
to which the project is given."' This new vision was 
accompanied by the appearance of new reviews — such as // 
menabb di letteratura (The blueprint for literature), edited 
by Vittorini and Italo Calvino; /f, the review <>t the so- 
called Gruppo 63; and Edilizia moderna (Modern building), 
edited by myself — in the field of architecture and 
urbanism. In cinema, this activity found its counterpart 
in the celebrated films of Michelangelo Antonioni of the 
early 1960s. 

In 1965 the INU held a conference in Trieste to discuss 
the themes of the large-scale territorial project. The report 
I presented on this occasion became, the following year, 
one of the central chapters of my book // territorio 
Jell' architettura (The territory of architecture). Aldo Rossi 
then published L'architettura delta citth (The architecture of 
the city, 1966), which was followed a year later by Giorgio 
Grassi's La costruzione logica dell'architettura (The logical 
construction of architecture) and Aymonino's research on 
the city of Padua. Our generation was taking a position on 
questions that would soon be put to the test by the projects 
in Palermo for the ZEN residential quarter (1969-73, see 
cat. nos. 722, 723) and the Universita di Palermo (1968), and 
by Rossi's and Aymonino's buildings for the Monte Amiata 
residential complex in Gallaratese (1969—73 and 1967—74, 
respectively, cat no. 721) in Milan. The same ideas 
regarding the outstanding importance of urban history 
were reconfirmed in the project devised by Luciano 
Semerani and Gigetta Tamaro, Romano Burelli, and others 
for the historical center of Trieste (1969, cat. no. 720). 

Another sign of the changing times was the fact that 
architectural culture was now being presented with 
diverse realities rooted in regional and cultural differences 
(though their significance went well beyond the individual 
region). On the one hand, Giovanni Michelucci was 
building the church of San Giovanni Battista (1960-64, 
cat. nos. 685, 686) on the Autostrada del Sole in Campo 
Bisenzo, while the works of Leonardo Ricci (see cat. 
nos. 687-90) and Leonardo Savioli (see cat. nos. 691-93) 
were being developed with a vigorous plasticity that owed a 
lot to the Art Informel in painting of a few years earlier. 
On the other hand, it was not until the early 1960s — very 
late, that is — that the importance of the work of Carlo 
Scarpa (see cat. nos. 694—98) was finally recognized, 
though the great consistency and poetic power of his 
projects for Venice had been clear for years. Especially in 
the area of museums- — Palazzo Abatellis (1954) m Palermo, 
the restoration and installation of the Castelvecchio 
museum (1956-67, cat. no. 697) in Verona, the Venezuela 
pavilion (1954 — 56, cat. no. 694) at the Giardini della 
Biennale di Venezia — and in a number ol other 
refurbishings (see cat. no. 698), St arpa had become tor us a 
model of originality and independence. Hut Ins lessons did 
not allow lor imitators, and thus his best students turned 
out to be those who distanced themselves the most from 
him: Marcello d'Olivo, with Ins works in Manacon sul 
Gargano (see cat. no. 700; see also cat. no. 699), and 
especially the seemingly antithetical Gino Valle, who in 
the 1970s and i>)X<>s would prove to be one <>i tin finest 

%^\ Vittorio Gregotti 

talents in all of Italian architecture, and who in the early 
1960s had produced a work of the caliber of the Zanussi 
office building (1959-61, cat. no. 672) in Porcia, which was 
more comparable to the best English work of that period 
than to anything Italian. 

Two rather special individuals entered the Italian 
architectural debate around this time: Maurizio Sacripanti, 
above all for his experimental projects, including the one 
(with Andrea Nonis) for the competition for the new civic 
museum (1967, cat. no. 712) in Padua, and Ettore Sottsass, 
Jr. (see cat. no. 702), who, though working mostly in the 
field of industrial product design, advanced a position that 
the generation of 1968 would later watch with great 
interest (his ties to Indian culture by way of the American 
Beats were well known). Parallel to this, in a way, was the 
great craftmanship reputation of the Castiglioni brothers, 
Achille and Pier Giacomo, who were industrial product 
designers (see cat. nos. 724-26, 749-51, 756, 775). 

It is worth noting that Italian culture at this time still 
preserved a unity between architecture and design not to 
be found in any other European country, though this unity 
was obviously stronger in Milan than in other parts of Italy. 
One product of this very special condition is the fine work 
that Albini and Helg did for the Line 1 stations of the 
Metropolitana subway system (i960, cat. no. 701) in Milan. 

The 1960s also saw continued and energetic production 
from the masters I discussed above: in 1968, for the AGIP 
motel (cat. no. 716) at Settebagni, Ridolfi and colleagues 
designed a tower that is a very interesting reprise of an old 
project of his from the 1920s, while at the same time 
building a number of urban edifices at Terni and the 
beautiful Lina house; Gardella won the competition for the 
Vicenza theater in 1968 and built the church of Metanopoli 
in Milan; BBPR built the office building on Piazza Meda, 
also in Milan. In Rome, the Passarelli brothers, Vincenzo, 
Fausto, and Lucio, renewing the stylistic tradition of Luigi 
Moretti (see cat. no. 620), built a lovely house on viale 
Campania (1965; see also cat. no. 717). In 1965 Quaroni's 
group drew up a plan for a government center at the 
Kasbah in Tunis (cat. no. 708) that kept a keen eye on the 
teachings of Louis Kahn. My own work of the period from 
1962 to 1965 (see cat. no. 703) also shows the definite 
influence of Kahn, whom I had met during a trip to the 
United States in 1959. Samona, after the extraordinary 
project (with others) for the Sacca del Tronchetto (1965, 
cat. no. 703) in Venice and the disappointment of the 
projects (with others) for the reconstruction of Gibellina, 
began in 1968 to build, with many allusions to historical 
memory, the new headquarters of the Banca d'ltalia 
in Padua. 

An entire generation of Roman architects found 
themselves vying with one another in the competition 
lor the new of (ices for the Chamber of Deputies (1967, cat. 
nos. 707, 709-11) in Rome. On this occasion, Quaroni and 
Ins colleagues revealed exceptional skill in interpreting the 
relationship between the building and the urban fabric. 
Throughout the 1960s, De Carlo produced a series of works, 
most ol them in Urbino, in which, through the Universita 
di Urbino, lie established a very spec nil relationship of 
guardianship with that city (see cat. no. 713). In Milan, 
Magistretti's house on via Conservatorio (1966, cat. no. 679) 
was one of Ins most interesting buildings. 

My generation, no longer young, was starting to produce 
works that began to gauge, in a new perspective, its 
capacity for critical as well as creative continuity. Gabetti 
and Isola built the new center for the Turin riding club 
(1959-61, cat. nos. 648, 649) and the school in the 
Vallette quarter (1964), both in Turin, and (with Luciano 
Re) the fine semicircular building of the Olivetti 
residential center (1969 — 71, cat. no. 719) in Ivrea. Also in 
Turin, Raineri built the novitiate of the Sisters of Charity 
(1962, cat. nos. 652, 653). Among architects in Turin, the 
influence of Sergio Iaretti, Elio Luzi, and the younger Piero 
De Rossi began to grow. 

In Milan, Canella, Michele Achilli, Daniele Brigidini, 
and Laura Lazzari built the expressionistic town hall 
(1963-66, cat. no. 714) in Segrate, asking Rossi to 
contribute a design for a fountain. Rossi and Aymonino 
competed with each other for the reconstruction of the 
Teatro Paganini in Parma, submitting rather different 
projects (1964) and later worked alongside one another on 
two residential buildings (see cat. no. 721) in Milan. Valle 
designed an industrial prefabrication system (see cat. 
no. 673) that in the years to come would have a great deal 
of influence, just as the earlier system (see cat. no. 671) 
designed by Angelo Mangiarotti had done. 

Having become at this time a professor at the School of 
Architecture of the Universita di Palermo, I was 
commissioned to design, together with the great Pollini, 
the university's new science complex. My group was also 
entrusted with building the ZEN quarter, having won the 
competition for this that same year, but this project was to 
remain disastrously unfinished. In Rome, Vittorio De Feo 
(see cat. no. 718) designed and built a middle school of 
rather great formal impact. 

By the end of the decade, groups such as the Stass and 
the GRAU had formed in Rome, collectives of planning 
and design strongly shaped by the relationship between 
form and ideology. After 1968 such groups as the Florentine 
Superstudio and Archizoom were formed that fell midway 
between the psychedelic experience and the technology of 
infinite communication theorized by the "plug-in city" at 
the start of the 1960s. The anticonstruction Ludditism of 
those years claimed to base itself in the ideologies of the 
New Left. 

Casabella, under the new editorship of Alessandro 
Mendini (Rogers was ousted as editor in 1964), became 
the standard-bearer for a closer relationship between the 
neo-avant-gardes in art and architecture. With the crisis 
of 1968, heralded in Italy by student movements since 
1966, and with the dashing of the Utopian hopes contained 
therein — a disillusionment justified by a series of 
distractions in political and intellectual behavior, but 
a disillusionment nonetheless — a new chapter was 
opened in the history of architecture in Italy as it was 
everywhere else. 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

564 An I n I id /ire 

i. The magazine, first published in Milan in 1928, changed its name 
several times over the years: from La Casa bella to Casabella, Casabella 
costruzioni, Costruzioni casabella, Casabella continuity, and finally to 
Casabella once more. In December 1943, publication of the magazine 
was prohibited by the Fascist regime, and althought it resumed 
publication briefly between March and December 1946, it resumed 
continuous publication only in 1953. For convenience, the magazine is 
referred to herein as Casabella. 

2. The other founding member of BBPR, Gianluigi Banfi, had died in 
a concentration camp in 1945. 

3. Manfredo Tafuri, Storia dell'architettura italiana 1944 — 198s (History 
of Italian architecture 1944 — 1985. Turin: Einaudi, 1986), p. 116. 

565 Vittorio c 1 


Catalogue numbers 603-723 

Franco Albini 

Franco Albini and Li/igi Colombini 

Franco Albini and Franca Helg 

Nello Aprile, Cino Calcaprina, Aldo Cardelli, 

Mario Fiorentino, and Giuseppe Perugini 
Giovanni Astengo 
Gae An lent i 
Gat Aulenti, Carlo Aymonino, Ezio Bonfanti. 

Cesare Macchi Cassia. Jacopo Gardella, and Steno Paciello 
Carlo Aymonino 
Luciano Baldessari 
Angelo Biancbetti. Gian Luigi Giordani, Marcello Nizzoli, 

and Cesare Pea 
Luigi Caccia Dominioni 
Guido Canella. Michele Achilli. Daniele Brigidini. and 

Laura Lazzari 
Aldo Cardelli, Arrigo Care. Giulio Ceradini. 

Mario Fiorentino. Ludovico Quaroni. and Mario Ridolfi 
Luigi Cosenza 
Luigi Carlo Daneri 
Costantino Dardi 
Giancarlo De Carlo 
Vittorio De Feo and Errico Ascione 
Giuseppe De Finetti 
Mario De Renzi, Saverio Muratori. Lucio Ca/ubellotti. 

Giuseppe Perugini. Dante Tassotti. and Luigi Vagnetti 
Marcello D'Olivo 
Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 
Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola 
Ignazio Gardella 
Vittorio GregOtti, Franco Amoroso. Hiromichi Matsui, and 

Franco Purini 
Vittorio Gregotti. Lodovico Meneghetti. and Giotto Stoppino 
Vittorio Gregotti. Lodovico Meneghetti. Giotto Stoppino. and 

Peppo Brivio 
Vico Magistretti 
Angelo Maugiarotti 

Luca Med a. G lanugo Polesello. and Aldo Rossi 
Giovanni Michel ncci 
Carlo Mo I lino 

Gianemilio. Piero. and Anna Monti 
Riccardo Morandi 
Luigi Morelti 
Saverio Muratori 
Pier Luigi Kern 
Pier Luigi and Antonio Nervi 

Gio Ponti. Antonio Fornaroli. Alberto Rosselli. 

Giuseppe Valtolina, and Egidio Dell' Or to 
Ludovico Quaroni 
Ludovico Quaroni. Luigi Agati. Federico Gorio, 

Piero Maria Lugli. and Michele Valor 1 
Ludovico Quaroni, Massimo Amodei. Roberto Berardi, 

Adolfo De Carlo, and Behamin Hagler 
Ludovico Quaroni. Adolfo De Carlo. Andrea Mor. and 

Angelo Sibilla 
Ludovico Quaroni. Gabriella Esposito, Marta Lonzi, and 

Antonio Quistelli 
Ludovico Quaroni and Mario Ridolfi 
Giorgio Raineri 
Leonardo Ricci 

Mario Ridolfi and Wolfgang Frank/ 

Mario Ridolfi, Wolfgang Frankl, and Domenico Malagricci 
Vmberto Riva and Fred i Drugman 
Maurizio Sacripanti and Andrea Nonis 
Giuseppe Saniona 
Giuseppe and Alberto Samona 
Giuseppe Saniona and Egle Renata Trincanato 
Leonardo Savioli. Emilto Brizzi, and Danilo Santi 
Leonardo Savioli and Danilo Santi 
Carlo Scarpa 

Luciano Semerani and Gigetta Tamaro 
Ezio Sgrelli 
Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 
Studio Asse 
Gino Valb 
Vitto ria no \ 'igt 1 no 
Marco Zanuso 
S ilia no Zorzi 

603. Nello Aprile, 
Cino Calcaprina, Aldo Cardelli, 
Mario Fiorentino, and Giuseppe 
Perugini, with sculpture by 
Mirko [Mirko Basaldella] and 
Francesco Coccia 

! ! mi cat es 

massacre, Rome, 1944 -47. Plaster 
model, fabricated in 1991 by 
Domenico Annicchiarico (after a model 
by Giuseppe Perugini), 10 x 74.5.x 
59.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim 

604. Nello Aprile, 

Cino Calcaprina, Aldo Cardelli, 
Mario Fiorentino, and Giuseppe 
Perugini, with sculpture by 
Mirko [Mirko Basaldella] and 
Francesco Coccia 
Monument to the Ardeatim caves 
massacre, Rome. 1944—4/. 

605. BBPR 

[Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, 
Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto 
Nathan Rogers] 

Monument to tht fallen in German 
concentration camps, Cimitero 
Monumentale, Milan, 1946. Iron and 
Plexiglas model, fabricated in 1993 by 
Luigi Morellato, 2$ x }o x 30 cm. 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

606. Giuseppe De Finetti 

Design for Strada Lombarda, Milan, 

607. Angelo Bianchetti, Gian 
Luigi Giordani, Marcello Nizzoli, 
and Cesare Pea 

Diorama oj the experimental quarter 
0T-S. VIII Triennale, Milan, 1948. 

608. Ignazio Gardella 

House of a viticulturalist, Castana 
(Pavia), 1945-46. 

609. Aldo Cardelli, Arrigo Care, 
Giulio Ceradini, Mario 
Fiorentino, Ludovico Quaroni, 
and Mario Ridolfi 

Competition project for the 

passenger terminal oj St. 1:10m Termini, 

Rome. 1947. 

610. Ludovico Quaroni 

Project for a church in the Prenestino 
quarter, Rome. 1947. 



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611. Ludovico Quaroni and 
Mario Ridolfi (team leaders), 
with Carlo Aymonino, Carlo 
Chiarini, Mario Fiorentino, 
Federico Gorio, Maurizio Lanza, 
Sergio Lenci, Piero Maria Lugli, 
Carlo Melograni, Giancarlo 
Menichefti, Giulio Rinaldi, and 
Michele Valori 

INA—Casa complex on via Tiburtino, 
Rome. ii>49-<;4- 

612. Mario Ridolfi and 
Wolfgang Frankl 

INA—Casa complex, Cerignola, ipso. 

613. Carlo Mollino 

Lago Nero xled-lifl lodge, Salict 
d'Ulzio, iy46-4j. Wood model, 
fabricated in ivv-s h\ Falcoand 
Bm/ Linger, ij.$x4ox jo cm. Solomon 
R. Guggenheim Museum. 

614. Mario Ridolfi and 
Wolfgang Frankl 

INA Assicurazioni residential towers 
on viale Etiopia, Rome, 1950—54. 



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615. Mario Ridolfi and 
Wolfgang Frankl 

ina on via Marco Polo. Rome, 
1952. Wood model, fabricated in ippj by 
Silic, 22 x {2 x j2 cm. Solomon R. 
>hem Museum, 

616. Giovanni Astengo (team 
leader), with Sandro 
Molli-Boffa, Mario Passanti, 
Nello Renacco, and Aldo Rizzotti 

La Falchera quarter, Turin, ca. 1950. 

617. Mario De Renzi, Saverio 
Muratori, Lucio Cambellotti, 
Giuseppe Perugini, Dante 
Tassotti, and Luigi Vagnetti 

Tuscolano quarter, Rome. 1952—55. 

618. Ludovico Quaroni, Luigi 
Agati, Federico Gorio, Piero 
Maria Lugli, and Michele Valori 

La Martella village, Matera, iosi-54. 

619. Ludovico Quaroni 

Church of tlh villagt 0/ La Martella, 
Matera, 10-51-54. 

620. Luigi Moretti 

Residential building, Milan, 1948-50. 

621. Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 

Office and apartment building mi via 
Broletto, Milan, 1947-48. 

622. Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 

Building in Harar quarter, Milan, 


623. Giovanni Michelucci 

Mercantilt exchange, Pistoia, 1949-50. 

624. Luciano Baldessari 

Installation of artworks, including 
cirrus-shaped neon structun In L/a/o 
Fontana, in the scalone d'onore (grand 
ttaircase oj honor) of the Palazzo 
dell' Arte, IX Triennale, Milan. 1951. 

625. Luciano Baldessari 

Breda pavilion at tht XXX Fiera 
Internazionale, Milan, 1952. 

626. Franco Albini and Luigi 

Pirovano lodge, Cervinia, 1949-51. 

627. Franco Albini 

INA office building, Parma. 1950-52. 

628. Franco Albini 

Installation oj Palazzo Bianco museum, 
Genoa, 1950-51. 

629. Ignazio Gardella 

Regina Isabella baths, Lacco Ameno, 
Ischia, 1950-51 

630. Franco Albini and 
Franca Helg 

Treasury museum of San Loren 

I. 1952-56 Wood, cardboard, 
Plexiglas. plaster, and felt model. 29 x 
125 x 82 cm. Centra Stiuli t Archivio 
delta Comunicazione, Universitd degli 
it di Parma. Sezione Progetto. 

631. Franco Albini and 
Franca Helg 

Treasury museum of San Lorenzo, 
Genoa. 1952-56. 

632. Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 

Church of tht Madonna dei Poveri, 
Mi/an. 1952-54. 

633. Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 

Olivetti complex oj social buildings, 

I ma. 1054-57. 

634. Luigi Cosenza, with 
Piero Porcinai (landscape 
architect) and Marcello Nizzoli 
(color designer) 

Olivetti factory. Pozzuoli, commenced 

635. Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini 

Olivetti complex of social buildings. 
Ivrea, 1954 — 57. Wood model, fabricated 
in 199} by Igor Silic. 16 x 70 x 30 cm. 
Collection 0/ Marilisa and Maurizio 
Pollini. Milan. 

636. Mario Ridolfi and 
Wolfgang Frankl 

Nursery school in the Canton Vesco 
quarter, Ivrea. 1955-63. 

637. Ignazio Gardella 

Cafeteria for Olivetti employees. Ivrea, 

638. Luigi Caccia Dominioni 

Beata Vergine Addolorata an/ vent and 
girls' school, Milan. 1046-54. 

639. Luigi Caccia Dominioni 

Loro Parisini office building, Milan, 
1955. Wood model, fabricated in 1993 by 
Studio Guzzetti. it x 90 x 2$ cm. 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

640. Luigi Caccia Dominioni 

Loro Parisini office building. Milan. 

641. Ignazio Gardella 

Residential building for Borsalmo 
employees. Alessandria. 1050-52. Wood 
model, fabricated in 1001 by Gianni 
Tt rti, 36 x 91 x 60 cm. Istituto 
Universitario di Architettura ih 
Venezia, Archivio Progetti Angelo 

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642. Ignazio Gardella 

Rt udential building for Borsalino 
employees. Alessandria. 1950-52. 

643. Roberto Gabetti and 
Aimaro Isola 

Bottega d'Erasmo, Turin. 1953-54. 

644. Luigi Caccia Dominioni 

Apartment bouse in piazza Carbonari. 
Milan, 1960—61. 

645. Giorgio Raineri 

Addition to the school of the Gesii 
Bambino institute. Turin. 1957-58. 

646. Saverio Muratori 

ENPAS office building. Bologna. 
1952-57. Wood model, fabricatt d in 
109} I') Igor Silic, 24 x 41. <; x 20 1 m. 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

647. Gae Aulenti 

\ ilia in San Sim. Milan. 195/. 

648. Roberto Gabetti and 
Aimaro Isola, with Giuseppe 
Raineri (structural engineer) 

Neu' center for the Turin riding club. 
Nichelino (Turin), 1959-61. Wood 
model. 12 x 33 x 45 cm. Archirio 
Gabetti e Isola. 

649. Roberto Gabetti and 
Aimaro Isola, with Giuseppe 
Raineri (structural engineer) 

Neu center for tht Turin riding club, 

Nichelino (Turin). 1059-61. 

650. Vittorio Gregotti, Lodovico 
Meneghetti, and Giotto Stoppino 

Office building. Novara, 19s '/■ 

651. Vittorio Gregotti, Lodovico 
Meneghetti, and Giotto Stoppino 

Residential building for Bossi textile 
industry workers. Cameri. 1955—56. 

652. Giorgio Raineri 

Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity, 
Tumi. 1962. Wood model, 14 x 36 x 

36 cm. Archivio Giorgio Raineri. 

653. Giorgio Raineri 

Novitiate oj the Sisters of Charity. 
Turin. 1962. 

654. Ignazio Gardella 

Cicogna house on the Zattere, Venice, 

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655. Giancarlo De Carlo 

Building for apartments and stores in 
the Spine Blanche quarter. Matera. 
1954- S7- 

656. BBPR 

[Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, 
Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto 
Nathan Rogers] 
Torre Velasca, Milan, ipso -$8. Wood 
model, fabricated in 197} by Liitgi 
Morellato, 120 x 10$ x w> cm. Studio 
Architetti BBPR. Milan. 

657. BBPR 

[Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, 
Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto 
Nathan Rogers] 

Torre Velasca. Milan, 1950- $8. 

658. BBPR 

[Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, 
Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto 
Nathan Rogers] 

Renovation and installation of the 
museums of Castello Sforzesco, Milan. 
1954 - S6. 

659. Franco Albini and 
Franca Helg 

La Rinascente department store. Rome. 
195 7- 61, model of the first project. 

660. Franco Albini and 
Franca Helg 

La Rinascente department store. Rome. 

661. Ludovico Quaroni (team 
leader), with Massimo Boschetti, 
Adolfo De Carlo, Gabriella 
Esposito, Luciano Giovannini, 
Aldo Livadiotti, Luciana 
Menozzi, Ted Musho, and 
Alberto Polizzi 

Competition project for the CEP quarter 
on the sandbanks of San Giuliano, 
Mestre. 1959. 

662. Ludovico Quaroni, Adolfo 
De Carlo, Andrea Mor, and 
Angelo Sibilla 

Church of the Sacra Famiglia, Genoa. 

663. Giuseppe Samona 

Palazzata on the sea building. Messina, 
I95i- $8. 

664. Giuseppe Samona and 
Egle Renata Trincanato 

INAIL office building in San Simeone. 
Venice, i9S0-$6. 

665. Pier Luigi Nervi 

Exhibition pavilion at Parco del 
Valentino. Turin, 1948. 

666. Pier Luigi and Antonio 

Palazzo del Lavoro (palace of work). 
Esposizione Italia '61. Turin, 1959-60. 

667. Vittorio Gregorti, Lodovico 
Meneghetti, and Giotto Stoppino 

Apartment building. Novara, 1957. 




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668. Silvano Zorzi 

Bridge over the Arno river on the 
Autostrada del Sole, Incisa {Florence). 

669. Riccardo Morandi 

Viaduct over Polcevera, Genoa, 

670. Riccardo Morandi 

Viaduct over the Maracand lagoon, 
Maracaibo, Venezuela. 1957-61. 

671. Angelo Mangiarotti 

Prefabricated-strnctu re u a rehouse. 
Mestre. 1063. 

672. Gino Valle 

Zanussi office building. Porcia 
(Pordenone), 1959-61. Wood model, 
fabricated in 1994 by Igor Silic. 14 x 
74 x 28.2 cm. Collection of the architect. 

673. Gino Valle 

Prefabricated-panel factory building for 
Zanussi, Porcia (Pordenone). 1963-64. 

674. Gio Ponti, Antonio 
Fornaroli, Alberto Rosselli, 
Giuseppe Valtolina, and Egidio 
Dell'Orto, with Pier Luigi Nervi 
and Arturo Danusso (structural 

Pirelli skyscraper, Milan, 190-61. 
Wood model, fabricated in 1993 by 
Igor Silic, 32 x 32. 3 x 28 cm. Regione 

675. Vittoriano Vigano 

Headquarters for thi combined 
Marchiondi Spagliardi and child 
welfare institutes, Milan. 1933-37. 
Bakelite model, fabricated in 1954, 23 x 
20 x 23 cm. Collection of the architect. 

676. Vittoriano Vigano 

Headquarters for the combined 
Marchiondi Spagliardi and child 
welfare institutes, Milan. 1953-37 

677. Umberto Riva and 
Fredi Drugman 

Vacation house. Tonnare di Stintino, 
1939 - 60. 

678. Ezio Sgrelli 

Montedison office building. Brindisi, 

679. Vico Magistretti 

House on via Conservatorio, Milan. 

680. Gianemilio, Piero, and 
Anna Monti 

Commercial building, Pugnochiuso di 

Vieste (Foggia). 1967. 

681. Marco Zanuso 

Olivetti factory, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

682. Marco Zanuso 

Olivetti factor). Buenos Aires, 19S4-62. 


683. Marco Zanuso 

Olivetti factory, Buenos Aires, 1954-62. 
Plexiglas model, fabricated in 199} by 
Lu/gt Morellato, 18 x 98 x 35 cm. 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

684. Marco Zanuso 

Olivetti factory, Buenos Aires, 1954-62. 

685. Giovanni Michelucci 

Church of San Giovanni Battista on 
the Autostrada del Sole, Campi 
Bisenzio (Florence), 1960 — 64. Bronze 
model, 29 x 78.5 x $8 cm. Centro di 
Documentazione Giovanni Michelucci. 

686. Giovanni Michelucci 

Church of San Giovanni Battista on the 
Autostrada del Sole, Campi Bisenzio 
(Florence), 1960-64. 

687. Leonardo Ricci 

Nursery school in the Monte degli Ulivi 
community. Riesi. 1963-66. 

688. Leonardo Ricci 

Apartment building in the Sorgane 
quarter, Bagno a Ripoli (Florence), 

689. Leonardo Ricci 

Casa Balmain. Elba, 1958. Wood 
model, 22 x 104 x 64 cm. Collection of 
the architect. 

690. Leonardo Ricci 

Casa Balmain. Elba. 1958. 

691. Leonardo Savioli and 
Danilo Santi 

Apartment house on via Piagentina, 
Florence, 1964. 

692. Leonardo Savioli, Emilio 
Brizzi, and Danilo Santi 

Enlargement of the municipal cemetery, 
Montecatini Alto, 1966-68. Wood 
model, 20 x 71 x no cm. Collection of 
Flora Savioli. 

693. Leonardo Savioli, Emilio 
Brizzi, and Danilo Santi 

Enlargement of the municipal cemetery, 
Montecatini Alto, 1966-68. 

694. Carlo Scarpa 

Venezuelan pavilion at the Giardim 
del la Biennale di Venezia, 1954-56. 

695. Carlo Scarpa 

Veritti house. Udine, 1955-61. Wood 
model, fabricated in 1984 by Igor Silic, 
16 x 27 x 41 cm. Collection ofOnorina 

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696. Carlo Scarpa 

Veritti bouse, Udine, io$<;-6[. 

697. Carlo Scarpa 

Restoration and installation of the 
Castelvecchio museum. Verona. 

698. Carlo Scarpa 

tti store in Piazza San Marco, 
Venice, 1957- $8. 

699. Marcello D'Olivo 
Urban plan ofLignano Pineta. 


700. Marcello D'Olivo 

Hotel Gusmay . Manacore sul Gargano, 

701. Franco Albini and Franca 
Helg, with Bob Noorda (graphic 

Line 1 stations of the Metropolitana 
subway system, Milan, 1962-64. 

702. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Entrance to the XII Triennale, Milan. 

703. Vittorio Gregotti, Lodovico 
Meneghefti, Giotto Stoppino, 
and Peppo Brivio 

Kaleidoscope room. XII Triennale. 
Milan, 1964. 

704. Luca Meda, Gianogo 
Polesello, and Aldo Rossi 

Competition project for the business 
district, Turin, 1962. 

705. Gae Aulenti, Carlo 
Aymonino, Ezio Bonfanti, 
Cesare Macchi Cassia, Jacopo 
Gardella, and Steno Paciello, 
with Antonio Ghirelli (design 

L'arrivo al mare (The arrival at the 
sea), display for the Italian section, 
dedicated to "Leisure Time and Water. ' 
XIII Triennale. Milan, 1964. 

706. Giuseppe Samond (team 
leader), with Costantino Dardi, 
Luigi Mattioni, Valeriano Pastor, 
Gianugo Polesello, Gigetta 
Tamaro, Luciano Semerani, and 
Egle Renata Trincanato 
Novissime project for the Tronchetto 
inlet, Venice, 1964. 

707. Ludovico Quaroni, Gabriella 
Esposito, Marta Lonzi, and 
Antonio Quistelli 

Competition project for the new offices of 
the Chamber of Deputies, Rome, 1967. 



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708. Ludovico Quaroni, Massimo 710. Costantino Dardi 

Amodei, Roberto Berardi, 
Adolfo De Carlo, and Behamin 

Project for a governmi ni a ntt r at thi 
Kasbab, Tunis, io6s- 

Competition project for tin neu "I tut 

center oj the Chamber of Deputies. 
Rome, 1967. 

709. Giuseppe and Alberto 

Competition project /or the new offices of 
the Chamber oj Deputies. Rome. 1967. 
Plaster model. 26 x 6$.<j x 41 cm. Centra 
Stiidt t Archivio della Comunicazione, 
Universitd degli Stud: di Parma. 
St zmne Progetto. 


711. Costantino Dardi 

Competition project for the new office 
center of the Chamber of Deputies. 
Rome. 1967. 

712. Maurizio Sacripanti and 
Andrea Nonis 

Competition project for the new civic 
museum. Padua. 1967. 

713. Giancarlo De Carlo 

'implex of university dormitories, 
Urbino, 1962—66. 

714. Guido Canella, Michele 
Achilli, Daniele Brigidini, and 
Laura Lazzari 

Town hall. Segrate. 1963 — 66. Wood 
model, fabricated in 199} by Studio 
Canella. }o x 60 x 40 cm. Archivio 
Guido Canella. 

715. Luigi Carlo Daneri, with 
Claudio Andreani, Eugenio 
Fuselli, Mario Pateri, Gustavo 
Pulitzer, Robaldo Morozzo 
dalla Rocca, and Antonio Sibilla 
(team leaders) 

INA-Casa complex for 4.500 people at 
Forte Quezzi, Genoa. 1956-58. 

716. Mario Ridolfi, Wolfgang 
Frankl, and Domenico 

Project for an AG IP motel. Settebagni 
(Rome). 1968. 

7X7. Studio Asse 

[Vicio Delleani; Mario Fiorentino; 

Riccardo Morandi; Fausto, 

Vincenzo, and Lucio Passarelli; 

Ludovico Quaroni; and Bruno 

Zevi; with Gabriele Scimemi, 


Proposal for the business district in 

Rome. 1967—70. 

718. Vittorio De Feo and 
Errico Ascione 

Project for the Giuliani) da Sangallo 
technical institute. Terni. 1968—69. 

719. Roberto Gabetti and 
Aimaro Isola with Luciano Re 

Olivetti residential center. Ivrea, 

720. Luciano Semerani and 
Gigetta Tamaro (team leaders) 

Competition project for the historical 
center of Trieste, 1969. 

721. Carlo Aymonino 

Monte Amiata residential complex in 
Gallaratese. Milan. 1967-74: 
including a building by Aldo Rossi. 
1969 — 73. Wood model, fabricated in 
IQ93 by Genevieve Hanssen, Studio 
Aymonino, 15 x 70 x 60 cm. Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum. 

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722. Vittorio Gregotti, Franco 
Amoroso, Hiromichi Matsui, and 
Franco Purini 

Competition project for residential 
quarter for 20.000 inhabitants (ZEN), 
Palermo. 1969. Wood model. 11 x 79 x 
i$9 cm. Archivio Gregotti Associati. 

723. Vittorio Gregotti, Franco 
Amoroso, Hiromichi Matsui, and 
Franco Purini 

Residential quarter (ZEN). Palermo. 


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Rebuilding the House 
of Man 

Dennis Doordan 


The January 1946 issue of Downs magazine opened with an 
editorial statement by its new editor, Ernesto Nathan 
Rogers: "On every side the house of man is cracked," he 
wrote. 1 His image of a house open to the winds and filled 
with nothing but the "laments of women and children"' 
evokes an Italy devastated morally as well as physically by 
war. As he would do so often over the course of the next 
decades, Rogers spoke for an entire generation of Italian 
architects when he proposed to rebuild the "house of man" 
in a way that would reshape Italian society: "It is a matter 
of forming a style, a technique, a morality as terms of a 
single function. It is a matter of building a society."' 

In the early 1950s Italian efforts to rebuild received 
positive reviews from abroad. After a 1951 visit to Italy 
Walter Gropius wrote to the Milanese architect Piero 
Bottoni: "I have been through six countries in Europe, but 
nowhere have I seen so much drive from the cultural point 
of view as in Italy. It is a strange fact that after wars all of a 
sudden some nations rise in their cultural attitudes, and 
Italy seems to be definitely in the foreground."' Within a 
decade, however, the optimism of the initial postwar 
period had begun to fade. Increasingly, Italian architects 
and critics spoke of an "atmosphere of disenchantment" 
and an "uneasiness" with the condition of architecture and 
urbanism throughout the peninsula. 4 By the late 1960s the 
rebellious demands of students, workers, and a new 
generation of designers had replaced the "laments of 
women and children" that Rogers had urged his colleagues 
to heed. 

The frustration and disillusionment of the late 1960s set 
the tone for studies of postwar architecture produced by 
Italian historians and critics. Today, the act of reflecting on 
the significance of the alleged "failures" of postwar Italian 
architects to, in Rogers's evocative words, repair the house 
of man unfolds in a very different intellectual climate. In 
this era of skepticism regarding the doctrinal rigidity of the 
Modernist movement in architecture, it is easier for us to 
concede that diversity is a sign of vitality than it was for 
historians writing only a few short years ago. A critical 
analysis of the debates concerning design theory and the 
constituent elements of architectural production in Italy 
between 1943 and 1968 reveals an architectural culture of 
unusual sophistication and subtlety. From the vantage 
point of the 1990s, it is possible to recognize that what was 
perceived by many Italians as a record of failures and 
frustrations was really one of the first sustained postwar 
challenges to the hegemony of Modernist models. 

The immediate postwar years constituted a period of 
remembrance and reconstruction. In August 1944 German 
troops withdrawing from Florence had destroyed five of the 
six bridges spanning the Arno river, including Bartolomeo 
Ammannati's Renaissance masterpiece, the Ponte Santa 
Trinita. Perversely, they left the medieval Ponte Vecchio 
intact. In order to deny the approaching Allied forces the 
use of the bridge, however, the Germans dynamited the 
buildings lining the approaches at either end. With the 
cessation of hostilities, discussions were begun concerning 
plans or rebuilding the devastated parts of the centro storico 
(historic center). At issue was a question destined to 
become one of the central themes in postwar European 
discussions of architecture: What is the proper relationship 
between new designs and historic surroundings? In Italy, 

586 Architecture 

one faction advocated the exact reconstruction of the 
destroyed buildings with the slogan, Dove erano e come erano 
(Where they were and how they were). Another side 
replied, Indietro non si torna (\ou can't go back), and argued 
for a modern reconfiguration of the damaged areas as an 
integral part of a new masterplan for the entire city. 6 

As rebuilt, the bridges and streets of central Florence are 
the product of a compromise. Ammannati's Ponte Santa 
Trinita was meticulously reconstructed, while other spans 
were replaced by new bridge designs. Along the streets 
leading to the Ponte Vecchio, traditional materials and 
textures, particularly at street level, evoked the character of 
the old neighborhood and masked new structural and 
mechanical systems within (see fig. i). Progressive Italian 
architects considered the rebuilding of Florence (and also 
parts of central Milan) a "lost opportunity" to reconfigure 
the country according to their own Modernist visions/ 
Today, such an assessment appears too harsh; we have 
grown to appreciate sensitive responses to context as much 
as we once admired bold departures from precedent. The 
rebuilding of the center of Florence should be recognized as 
a commendable solution to the problem of repairing a 
historic urban fabric devastated by war." 

Also on the public design agenda in the immediate 
aftermath of the war was the question of memorials to the 
victims of the war, the Resistance struggle, and the 
Nazi— Fascist terror campaigns. In Milan, the architectural 
firm BBPR (Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico 
Peressutti, and Rogers [the other founding member, 
Gianluigi Banfi, had died in a concentration camp in 1945]) 
designed a memorial for those who perished in Nazi 
concentration camps (1946, fig. 2, cat. no. 605). A metal 
framework, proportioned according to the golden section, 
delineates a simple cubic volume. In the center, a second, 
smaller volume holds an urn containing ashes from 
different concentration camps. The gridded, transparent 
volume of the memorial reaffirmed the commitment of the 
BBPR studio to the design principles of the prewar 
Rationalist movement. 9 

The Roman equivalent of the Milanese memorial is the 
monument to the victims of the Ardeatine caves massacre 
(1944—47, fig- 3> cat - nos. 603, 604). In March 1944 German 
troops executed 385 Roman prisoners in the caves located 
on the outskirts of the city. The murders were in reprisal 
for a partisan attack on German troops stationed in the 
city. Within weeks of the liberation of Rome, a competition 
was announced for the design of a memorial to the 
victims. 1 A team headed by Mario Fiorentino and 
Giuseppe Perugini received the commission." Their design 
calls upon the visitor to retrace the steps of the condemned 
men through the caves before exiting into the sacrario 
(shrine) containing the victims' tombs. The sacrario is 
covered by a huge cement-and-stone lid measuring 25 by 
50 meters and over 3.5 meters deep. Six slender concrete 
piers lift this lid off the bermed walls of the enclosure, thus 
creating a narrow open clerestory along the perimeter. 
Suggestive of the subterranean space of the cave, the dimly 
lighted interior of the sacrario and the ponderous form of 
the monument's covering evoke the crushing finality of 
death. But the slim band of natural Light visible around the 
periphery of the sacrario prevents the massive lid from 
sealing the memorial forever. This fragile band of light 


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fig. 1. Edoardo Detti. Riccardo 
Gizdulich. and Italo Gamberini, 
Reconstructed building on the via di Por 
Santa Maria in the centra storico. 

Florence. 1947- so. 

fig. 2. BBPR {Lodovico Barbiano di 
Belgiojoso. Enrico Peressutti, and 
Ernesto Nathan Rogers), Monument to 
the fallen in the German concentration 
camps, Cimitero Monumentale, Milan, 

\N- /)(//;;/> Doordan 

fig. j. Sella Aprile, Cino Calcaprina, 
Aldo Cardelli, Mario Fiorentino, and 
Giuseppe Perugini. with sculpture by 
Mirku {Mtrko Basaldella} and 
Francesco Coccia, Monument to the 
Ardeatine caves massacre. Rome. 

serves as the postwar equivalent to the rainbow that 
appeared after the biblical flood: a symbol of hope for those 
who survived and a promise to those who perished that 
they will not be forgotten. 

The difference between the cerebral abstraction of the 
Milanese memorial and the visceral impact of the Roman 
monument reflects the different design sensibilities evident 
in the architectural cultures of these two Italian centers. 
Diversity, not uniformity, would prove to be the hallmark 
of Italian architecture in the postwar years. This diversity 
is evident in the discussions of theory as well. 

Numerous Italian architects in the mid- 1940s faced an 
ideological and professional crisis. In the 1930s the attempt 
by progressive architects to integrate political and 
architectural ideologies led them to identify Rationalism 
in design and Fascism in politics as twin revolutionary 
movements destined to transform society. 12 The collapse of 
Fascism revealed this perceived affinity to be an illusion 
and forced many architects to reconsider the principles on 
which they based their practice. At the same time, the 
level of horror made possible by military technology 
compelled many architects (along with the rest of society) 
to question their faith in modern technology as the 
ultimate answer to problems confronting society. Three 
emergent trends can be discerned in Italian architectural 
culture of the period: neorealism, organicism, and 

Neorealism was a pervasive presence in postwar Italian 
culture." Neorealist architecture involved, among other 
things, the explicit rejection of classical models and of the 
cultural elitism associated with classicizing tendencies. A 
new sense of an elemental human solidarity, one capable of 
transcending regional and class divisions, found its 
architectural relocation in forms derived from the 
anonymous tradition of rural building. Modern architects 
began to appreciate Italy's rich heritage of folk architecture 
in the late 1930s, but the neorealist sensibility invested the 
simplicity and enduring quality of rural buildings with a 
new moral and political significance. 

Although the origins of neorealism can be traced back 
to the prewar era, the organic movement constituted a 
novel development in Italian architecture. The animating 
force within the organic movement was Bruno Zevi. In 1945 
Zevi founded the APAO (Associazione per 1'Architettura 
Organica/Association for Organic Architecture). The 
APAO manifesto defined organic architecture as "a social, 
technical, and artistic activity, directed toward creating the 
climate for a new democratic civilization.'" 4 The organic 
architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright served as Zevi's model 
for the "new democratic civilization." Zevi had acquired 
his enthusiasm for Wright during his student days in 
America and, upon his return to Italy, became a tireless 
advocate of Wrightian principles. 

Wright's appeal for Italian architects in the 1940s and 
early 1950s was as complex as it was improbable. Many, 
including Zevi, saw the variety inherent in Wright's 
organic architecture as a viable design alternative to the 
normative Rationalism characteristic of Central European 
Modernism. While Wright's vision of Broadacre City was 
completely alien to Italian settlement patterns and urban 
traditions, his democratic idealism was an attractive, 
indeed inspirational, alternative to the totalitarian 

588 Architecture 

philosophies of both the political Right and Left. Wright's 
own turbulent career reaffirmed the romantic ideal of the 
heroic artist capable of redemption through creation. 
Wright had proved it was possible to survive adversity; his 
work transcended the circumstantial, nurtured profound 
human experiences, and articulated universally shared 
aspirations. For many Italian architects still recovering 
from the trauma of war, Wright's life and work seemed to 
articulate, if not always resolve, many of the dilemmas 
they confronted. 

Translating Wrightian principles into Italian forms 
proved to be problematic. The Tiburtino quarter (1949-54, 
figs. 4, 5, cat. no. 611), a housing complex on the outskirts 
of Rome, is an excellent example of the interweaving of 
neorealist attitudes and organic principles at work in 
Roman architecture. Tiburtino was designed by a group of 
Roman architects headed by Ludovico Quaroni and Mario 
Ridolfi with Carlo Aymonino." In his account of the 
project, Aymonino described the intention behind the 
design: "From the beginning of the design of the q/iartiere, 
the idea was accepted to reject a composition of the 
rationalist type.""' 

The philosophy that guided the designers emerged 
directly from the discussions of organic architecture, 
initiated in Rome in 1944 and 1945, in which most of the 
members of the group participated. They deliberately 
sought an alternative to the planning models popularized 
by the CIAM (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture 
Moderne/International Conference of Modern 
Architecture)'" before the war, which were based on the 
uniform arrangement of rationalized housing typologies. 
Instead, the Tiburtino design group turned to recent 
Scandinavian housing projects for models and sought 
to infuse the design with what Aymonino called a 
"spatial reality," a Wrightian principle of organic 
architecture. European Rationalists depended upon a 
conceptualization of space rendered most clearly in the 
two-dimensional abstraction of plans. In contrast, 
understanding the "reality" of organic architectural space 
came through direct human experience, that is, through 
inhabiting the space. 

If the philosophy behind the Tiburtino quarter reflected 
an interest in foreign models and lessons, the forms 
employed were derived from native vernacular traditions. 
In order to avoid the sterility of uniformity, the architects 
varied the design and positioning of balconies and 
stairs, adjusted fenestration patterns, and skewed the 
alignment of buildings to one another. The results did 
indeed avoid the repetitive uniformity of Rationalist 
models and succeeded in evoking the "sapient irregularity 
of old villages."'" Critics, nonetheless, described the 
results as "mannered" and "picturesque" and argued that 
village models were inappropriate for the new urban, 
working-class neighborhoods like Tiburtino that 
were sprouting around the periphery of Italy's metropolitan 

In contrast to the proponents of organic and neorealist 
architecture, some designers attempted to preserve the 
essence of the prewar Modernist position and to extend or 
renew the Rationalist tradition on the basis of a refined 
appreciation of its Central European heritage. One of the 
seminal contributions to this effort was Giulio Carlo 

figs. 4, y. Ludovico Quaroni and Mario 

Ridolfi (team leaders), with Carlo 
Aymonino. Carlo Chtarini. Mario 
Fiorentino. Federico Gorio. Maurizio 
Lanza, Sergio Lend. Piero Alaria 
Lugli, Carlo Melograni. Giancarlo 
Menichetti, Giulio Rinaldi. and 
Michele Valori. INA-Casa complex on 
via Tiburtino. Rome. 1949-54. 

5X9 Dennis Doordan 

Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini, 
Housing on via Dessii, Milan, ipfi. 

fig. 7. Luigi Man///, Apartment 
building on viajenner, Rome, 1049. 

Luigi i, .una Domini")/ 1. 
Apartment building in piazza 
Carbonari, Milan, xg6o- 61. 

Argan's study of Gropius and the Bauhaus, published in 
1951."' For Argan, Modernism in design and the visual arts 
was the expression of an enlightened, contemporary 
consciousness that was truly international in scope. The 
neorealist fascination with urban or rural vernacular 
traditions, like the prewar fixation with Italy's classical 
heritage, according to Argan, threatened to isolate Italian 
culture from the European mainstream. 20 He presented 
Gropius and the Bauhaus as the reigning embodiment of 
this progressive and internationalist force in European 
twentieth-century history. Argan, however, had to counter 
the postwar criticism of the Bauhaus model of 
industrialized design as ultimately soulless and 
dehumanizing. In describing Gropius's program at the 
Bauhaus, Argan wrote, "It is, on a theoretical level, the 
defense of industry understood as the empowerment of 
talent against 'Fordism' and the degradation of personality 
through the mechanism of production. " :i Rather than 
discrediting Rationalism, Argan argued, the war had 
created the opportunity for Italians to sever the bonds of 
tradition, class prejudice, and cultural provincialism and to 
assume full partnership in a thoroughly modern European 

Many architects were eager to do just that. As it had 
before the war, Milan served as the center for postwar 
Rationalist thinking in architecture and design. In 1945 
progressive architects in Milan founded the MSA 
(Movimento di Studi per l'Architettura/Movement of 
Studies for Architecture) as a forum for discussion and 
promotion of a reinvigorated Rationalist movement. The 
MSA included the survivors of the prewar Rationalist 
movement and a new generation of designers who had 
completed their university studies during the war years. 
The character of the revived Rationalism is evident in the 
housing blocks on via Dessie in Milan (1951, fig. 6) by 
Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini. The exposed frame, flat roof, 
and gridded elevations of the via Dessie blocks provide a 
dramatic contrast to the contemporary Tiburtino quarter 
in Rome. 

Progressive architects had long realized that 
comprehensive urban planning was a critical corollary to 
modern architecture and design. Even before the end of 
hostilities, in 1944, a group of Rationalist architects in 
Milan, calling themselves AR (Architetti Riuniti), began 
working on a new urban plan for the city." Published in 
July 1945 as "the AR plan," the proposal was based on the 
planning tenets articulated by the CIAM in "The Athens 
Charter" of 1933/' It was truly regional in its scope and 
addressed the major Italian planning concern of the period: 
the control of explosive development along the urban 
periphery. More important for our analysis than the 
specifics of the plan is the principle of planning embodied 
in the document. The collapse of Fascism forced Italians to 
confront the challenge of defining a new political order for 
the nation. With its regional premise and its expectations 
regarding the ability of planning agencies to control real 
estate speculation, the AR plan was a blueprint for 
regional government even more than it was a description of 
urban form. 

This faith in the efficacy of Modern architecture as an 
instrument of social and political regeneration was 
pervasive in the Italian architectural culture of the 1940s. 


590 Architecture 

Bottoni, a member of the AR group and one of the most 
politically active architects in the anti-Fascist Resistance 
movement, spoke for many of his contemporaries when he 
emphasized the political dimensions of design efforts. "The 
'new construction' of the country," Bottoni wrote in 
February 1945, "is essentially a problem of a moral and 
political order." 1 ' It was the clash of political and moral 
imperatives beyond Italy's borders, however, that proved to 
be critical for postwar developments. As the Superpower 
competition between the United States and the Soviet 
Union intensified, the Cold War "froze" political systems 
on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The hopes that Bottoni 
and many of his fellow architects nurtured for the dramatic 
reconfiguration of the political, economic, and social 
structure of Italy were frustrated by the elections of 1948. 
The triumph of the DC (Democrazia Cristiana/Christian 
Democratic party) — aggressively supported by the United 
States during the election campaign — appeared to 
preclude the radical restructuring of the political and 
economic order that was such a prominent theme in the 
deliberations of architectral groups like the APAO and 
the MSA. 

The DC never embraced the planning ethic central to 
the thinking of the architectural profession in the late 
1940s. Instead of the comprehensive industrial and urban 
planning outlined in the AR plan, the DC— led governing 
coalition offered Italians a national housing plan. The 
Fanfani Plan, named for the DC Minister (later Prime 
Minister) responsible for its implementation, Amintore 
Fanfani, called for the creation of INA-Casa (Istituto 
Nazionale Abitazioni— Casa/National Housing 
Institute— Casa). The 1949 legislation creating INA— Casa 
was officially entitled "Provisions for increasing worker 
employment, facilitating the construction of labor 
housing." 25 It was first and foremost an attempt to alleviate 
unemployment by stimulating the construction industry 
through a limited national program of state-subsidized 
housing construction. As a result, INA— Casa's efforts 
tended to discourage industrialization and mechanization 
within the construction industry in favor of labor-intensive 
practices. The INA— Casa program thus effectively blunted 
one of the major thrusts of advanced architectural 
thinking: the modernization of design and construction 
practices through the introduction of technologically 
sophisticated materials and methods. 

INA— Casa housing projects demonstrated considerable 
variety, and the quality of individual projects was 
indisputable. Both the Tiburtino quarter in Rome and the 
via Dessie housing in Milan were INA— Casa-sponsored 
efforts. But the Fanfani Plan contained few if any 
provisions for comprehensive urban planning of the type 
that many architects were advocating. The lack of stringent 
planning controls allowed land speculators to reap 
enormous profits at public expense as land costs soared, 
and this, in conjunction with the migration of large 
numbers of people to the urban centers of northern Italy, 
encouraged the proliferation of new neighborhoods on the 
urban periphery. The undesirable effects of the INA-Casa 
program also revealed the inherent weakness of groups and 
movements like the APAO and the MSA. Their unofficial 
status as cultural organizations rather than state entities or 
professional regulatory bodies rendered them powerless to 

affect the course of government actions, and they gradually 
withered and died as viable professional organizations. 

The pace and vigor of postwar economic recovery — Italy's 
famous "economic miracle" — generated plenty of activity 
for architects. Foreign observers were impressed with both 
the volume of activity and the quality of individual 
designs. In his review of postwar European architecture, 
the critic George Everard Kidder Smith noted, "For well 
more than a decade following the war, contemporary Italian 
architecture was the brightest, most imaginative, and most 
stimulating in all Europe." '' It was also some of the most 
varied, as Italian architects explored a range of design 
idioms. Luciano Baldessari's exuberant exhibition designs 
for the Breda pavilions at the annual Milan trade fairs in 
the early 1950s (see cat. no. 625), for example, translated the 
gestural immediacy of drawing into built form and 
betrayed his own early experiences as a Futurist. Franco 
Albini invested his designs for museum installations in 
Genoa with a haunting and surreal quality that called into 
question the very nature of the museum experience (see 
cat. nos. 628 and 630—31). Pier Luigi Nervi's plans for 
Rome's i960 Olympics sports facilities, among the most 
celebrated engineering designs of the decade, demonstrated 
his command of the aesthetic as well as the structural 
potential of reinforced concrete structures. After his early 
Rationalist and neorealist work, Giovanni Michelucci 
moved in the direction of a more dramatic and 
expressionistic type of imagery. The complex volumes and 
convoluted framework of his famous church of San 
Giovanni Battista (1960-64, cat. nos. 685-86) on the 
Autostrada del Sole outside Florence conjure up images of 
caves, tents, and groves of trees as metaphors for places of 
ritual assembly. 

This litany of individual sensibilities and unique 
accomplishments could be continued almost indefinitely. 
In 1961 Douglas Haskell, editor of Architectural Forum, 
described recent Italian architecture as "the pure poetry of 
an intensely personal art." ; ^ Such an "intensely personal 
art" defies easy generalizations. An examination of three 
residential buildings by different architects in different 
cities reveals the remarkable variety possible within the 
same building typology. Luigi Moretti's apartment building 
on via Jenner (1949, fig. 7) in Rome consists of a complex 
volume articulated by eccentrically shaped planes and 
openings. In the absence of a clearly defined orthogonal 
matrix (the ubiquitous grid of the Rationalist tradition). 
Moretti's planes float precariously over the street. In Milan. 
Luigi Caccia Dominioni's residential building 111 piazza 
Carbonari (1960-61, 'fig. 8, cat. no. 644) is a single-, blunt 
volume enlivened only by an arrangement ot windows 
dictated strictly by the internal layout ot rooms. In Venice, 
the fenestration pattern, the arrangement and detailing ot 
the balconies, and the informal massing ot [gnazio 
Gardella's apartment house on the Zattere < 195 1 58, cat. 
no. 654) beautifully reflects the urban vema< nlar buildings 
of the local tradition. 

One pervasive feature of postwar Italian design is tin 
mural character ot tin- work. Italian buildings tend to be 
opaque rather than transparent; they feature walls with 

individual windows cut into surfaces rather than 
continuous window --walls ot glass. Tins is hardh surprising 

591 Dennis Doordan 

fig. 9. Luigi Morefti, Casa Girasole, 
Rome, 1950. 

fig. 10. Liugi Moretti, Casa Girasole, 
Rnwe. 1050. detail. 

in Italy, with its millennial tradition of mural architecture. 
But for decades, Modernists had repeatedly identified 
transparency as one of the distinguishing features of 
Modern architecture, and the Italian preference for 
articulated mural surfaces appeared strangely at odds with 
international theory and practice. 

In a 19 5 1 essay Moretti expressed his reservations 
concerning the simplistic equation of Modernism with 

Certain masters of early Rationalism, and how many disciples, 
thought to attain, exhaust or somehow resolve their drive 
towards a pure, crystalline world, with the very material of 
crystal itself, glass. They thereby inadvertently tumbled from the 
exigencies of plastic language into the exigencies, by homonymy, 
of literary diction. That aspiration towards an inexorable 
formal neatness, which is the pride of the modern spirit, became 
confused in its expression with the effective neatness of the 
material, with the lucidity and transparency of the surfaces. 2 * 

Ancient architects, Moretti maintained, understood the 
expressive potential inherent in a mural surface and that if 
one wanted to realize this potential "it is necessary to 
operate on it in some way, to excite and evoke its forces, to 
cause gestures and corrugations to erupt from it which 
exalt its presence. ""' For the street-level wall of his Casa 
Girasole (1950, figs. 9, 10) in Rome, Moretti "operated on" 
the surface to "exalt its presence" with eccentric patterns 
and varied textures.' 

In Turin, Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola 
demonstrated their own idiosyncratic appreciation of the 
expressive character of mural architecture with their 1954 
design for an apartment building known as the Bottega 
d'Erasmo (after an antiquarian bookshop that occupies the 
street level) (figs. 11, 12, cat. no. 643). When the building 
was published in Casabella continuity (House beautiful 
continuity), the designers wrote, "It did not seem necessary 
to us, in order to be modern, to cover it with strange 
materials or to reveal the reinforced concrete framework."' 
Instead, they detailed the stone and brick facade in a 
manner that reflected their appreciation of such designers 
as Hendrik Petrus Berlage, Riccardo Brayda, Charles 
Rennie Mackintosh, and Wright. As one of the most 
prominent examples of what critics dubbed Neo-Liberty 
(Stile Liberty was the name used in the early twentieth 
century to identify the Italian version of Art Nouveau), the 
building soon became an international cause celebre. In a 
sharply worded attack in the April 1959 issue of 
Architectural Review, Reyner Banham characterized it along 
with other recent developments in Italian architecture as "a 
retreat from modern architecture. " ,; Banham's was not the 
only harsh voice from abroad. At the 1959 CIAM meeting 
in Otterlo, for example, the Dutch architect Jacob Bakema 
warned the Italian delegates, '"You are resisting to the life 
of our times."" At that same meeting, the British architect 
Peter Smithson criticized BBPR's Torre Velasca project 
(1950—58, cat. nos. 656—57) and warned the designers, 
"Your building does not, in my opinion, exist in the same 
world as the artifacts of our era."' 4 In retrospect, the 
foreign condemnations of the emerging eclecticism within 
Italian architectural culture reflect the stifling narrowness 
of Modernist orthodoxy rather than a regressive quality in 

592 Architecture 

Italian design. 

It was Rogers who sensed the potential in much of the 
Italian work for a more coherent and sensitive approach to 
the issue of contextual design. In the 1950s he began to 
write eloquently about the need to consider existing 
conditions and national traditions when designing modern 
buildings. In place of solutions prefigured by the designer's 
commitment to a normative design philosophy (the charge 
made most frequently against Rationalist architecture), 
Rogers argued for a design approach based on a case-by- 
case analysis of the physical, cultural, and historical 
environment to be shaped. The willingness on the part of 
many Italian architects to investigate formal issues at odds 
with the orthodox principles of Modern architecture 
appears prescient of contemporary, Postmodernist 
sensibilities. But we should be wary of facile attempts to 
equate Rogers's concern for local traditions with 
Postmodernist contextualism. Rogers insisted that his 
concern for "pre-existing conditions" could be reconciled 
with a commitment to the principles of Modernism: 

If one admits, with sufficient modesty, that we are still operating 
within the orbit of the methodological process initiated by 
Gropius, one can easily recognize that a vast evolution is possible 
by following along the path undertaken, not only without 
falling into any contradiction with its original postulates, but 
increasingly by carrying those same principles to their utmost 
consequences: this same method allows us to enlarge the horizons 
of research and to include in them new, coherent results. " 

Rogers's insistence on this point is significant. For 
European designers, the design legacy of Gropius and the 
Bauhaus represented not only the formal tradition of 
Modern architecture but the moral and ethical values of an 
enlightened social vision as well. Rogers's generation was 
not yet ready to abandon the cause of Modernism, even 
though, increasingly, their work challenged Modernisms 
formal language. 

Inherent in the "pure poetry" (to borrow Douglas 
Haskell's description) of postwar Italian design was the 
provocative thesis that the rationalized forms of Modern 
architecture and the sense of lightness inherent in a 
Modern aesthetic of transparency were incapable of bearing 
the weight of the present, much less the burden of the 
past. The sense of failure that slowly pervaded Italian 
architectural culture lay in the realization that architects 
like Gabetti and Isola could evoke the forms but not the 
reforming zeal of early-twentieth-century masters. During 
the difficult years of war and reconstruction, the design 
profession had sustained itself with the vision of a new 
moral and political order enshrined in a new architecture. 
The bourgeois commissions that filled the studios of Italian 
architects — commissions that emphasized comfort and 
convenience and depended on conservative notions of 
private property and public finances — appeared totally 
incapable of realizing the profession's sense of mission. 

In 1961 Gardella ruefully described the predicament 
designers faced: "The best Italian architects find themselves 
in the situation of someone painting the walls of a room 
and discussing what color to select while the house 
burns."' 6 To many design professionals, the achievements of 
postwar architecture appeared too meager a return on the 

fig. 11. Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro 
Isola, Bottega d'Erasnw. Turin, 

fig. 12. Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro 
Isola, Bottega d'Erastno, Turin, 
1953—54. detail. 

v;< Dentiii Doordan 

psychic as well as physical effort invested in rebuilding the 
nation. One way to resolve the dilemma of Gardella's 
"burning house," many argued, was to sever the links 
between existing patterns of governmental and bourgeois 
patronage and architectural production. 

In the late 1960s and early 1970s dramatic design 
alternatives to the status quo appeared. Megastructures, for 
example, offered the promise of achieving comprehensive 
design on a truly regional scale through the integration of 
physical and social planning in a single matrix. The very 
nature of megastructures transcended traditional 
conceptions of private property, civic form, and personal 
space/" Now, the "house of man" was conceived as a living 
pod attached to an enormous megastructure. 

The interest in megastructures and the advent of radical 
architecture groups like Superstudio, Archizoom, and 
Group 9999 marked the end of an era in Italian 
architecture. "We need in fact to begin all over again," 
Superstudio argued in one of its early manifestos. 1 " A new 
generation was poised to assume the leadership of the 
architectural profession, shaped by a different set of 
experiences, with different goals, and new ideas about the 
potential of architecture to rebuild the "house of man." 

1. Ernesto Nathan Rogers, "Programma: Damns, la casa del'uomo," 
Domus, no. 205 (January 1946), reprinted in Joan Ockman, ed., 
Architecture Culture 1945-1968: A Documentary Anthology (New York: 
Rizzoli, 1993), p. 78. 

2. Ibid. 

3. Ibid. 

4. Giancarlo Consonni, Lodovico Meneghetti, and Graziella Tonon, 
Piero Bottoni: opera coiupleta (Piero Bottoni: complete works. Milan: 
Fabbri Editore, 1990), p. 439. 

5. See, for example, Francesco Tentori, "Died anni della gestione 
INA— Casa," Casabella continuity (House beautiful continuity), no. 248 
(February 1961), pp. 52-53. 

6. For a review of the events surrounding the destruction and 
rebuilding of Florence, see Fabrizio Brunetti, Uarchitettura in Italia 
negli anni della ricostruzione (Architecture in Italy in the years of 
reconstruction. Florence: Alinea Editrice, 1986). 

7. The architect Giovanni Michelucci lamented the decision of his 
fellow citizens to recreate the character of the medieval urban fabric: 
"Out of fear of the new was born the idea to recover that which was 
lost." For Michelucci's comments, see Giorgio Ciucci and Francesco 
Dal Co, Atlaute dell ' architettura italiana del Noi'ecento (Atlas of Italian 
architecture of the twentieth century. Milan: Electa, 1991), p. 171. 

8. The entire topic of the rebuilding of portions of Italian cities and 
the repair of historic structures damaged in the war awaits careful 
consideration and additional study. 

9. For the BBPR studio there was a particular poignancy associated 
with this memorial. One of the names inscribed on the plaques around 
the memorial was that of Gianluigi Banfi. Before the war, Banfi had 
been part of the BBPR studio. In addition to Banfi, other architects 
named on the memorial included Giuseppe Pagano, Raffaello Giolli, 
Giorgio Beltrami, and Giorgio Labo. Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso 
was captured along with Banfi and sent to the concentration camp at 
Mauthausen for his activities as a member of the Resistance 
movement. For Belgiojoso's account of his experience, see Cesare De 
Seta, ed., Belgiojoso: intervista sul mestiere di architetto (Belgiojoso: 
interview on the craft of the architect. Bari: Laterza, 1979), pp. 69-75. 

10. For a summary of the events surrounding the design and execution 
of this project, see Amadeo Belluzzi and Claudia Conforti, Architettura 
italiana 1944 — 1984 (Italian architecture 1944— 1984. Bari: Laterza, 1985), 
pp. 92-94- 

11. In addition to Fiorentino and Perugini, the team included Nello 
Aprile, Cino Calcaprina, and Aldo Cardelli. 

12. For a discussion of Italian architecture in the 1930s, see Dennis P. 
Doordan, Building Modern Italy: Italian Architecture 1914- 1936 (New 
York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1988); and Richard Etlin, 
Modernism in Italian Architecture. 1890 -1940 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 

13. Stuart Woolf, "History and Culture in the Postwar Era, 
1944 — 1968," in Emily Braun, ed., Italian Art in the 20th Century: 
Painting and Sculpture 1900 -1988 (Munich: Prestel, 1989), pp. 273-79. 

14. The APAO manifesto is reprinted, in translation, in Ockman, 
p. 69. 

15. In addition to Quaroni, Ridolfi, and Aymonino, the design group 
included: Carlo Chiarini, Mario Fiorentino, Federico Gorio, Maurizio 
Lanza, Sergio Lenci, Piero Maria Lugli, Carlo Melograni, Giancarlo 
Menichetti, Giulio Rinaldi, and Michele Valori. 

16. Carlo Aymonino, "Storia e cronaca del Quartiere Tiburtino," 
Casabella continuity (House beautiful continuity), no. 215 (April-May 
1957), P- 20. 

17. The Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) was 
founded in 1928 by leading modern architects in Europe to formulate 
and promote the principles of Modernism in architecture. 

18. The phrase comes from Ignazio Gardella, "The Last Fifty Years of 
Italian Architecture Reflected in the Eye of an Architect," in Fabio 
Nonis and Sergio Boidi, eds., Ignazio Gardella (Milan: Harvard GSD 
and Electa, 1986), p. 14. 

19. Giulio Carlo Argan, Walter Gropius ed il Bauhaus (Walter Gropius 
and the Bauhaus. Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 1951). 

20. For an excellent discussion of the ramifications of Argan's 
argument for postwar Italian visual arts in general, see Marcia E. 
Vetrocq, "National Style and the Agenda for Abstract Painting in 
Post-War Italy," Art History 12, no. 4 (December 1989), pp. 448-71. 

21. Argan, 1951, p. 19. 

594 Architecture 

22. The group included Franco Albini, Piero Bottoni, Ignazio 
Gardella, Gabriele Mucchi, Enrico Peressutti, Mario Pucci, Aldo 
Putelli, and Ernesto Nathan Rogers. Ludovico Belgiojoso and Ezio 
Cerutti joined the group upon their return to Milan. 

23. For a detailed description of the AR plan, see Maurizio Grandi and 
Attilio Pracchi, Milano: guida all'architettura moderna (Milan: guide to 
modern architecture. Bologna: Zanichelli, 1980). 

24. Piero Bottoni, "La casa a chi lavora" (1945), reprinted in Giancarlo 
Consonni, Lodovico Meneghetti, and Luciano Patetta, "Bottoni: 40 
anni di battaglie per l'architettura," Controspazio (Counterspace) 5, 
no. 4 (October 1973), p. 78. 

25. The INA— Casa program was authorized originally for a period of 
seven years. The program was renewed for an additional seven years in 
1955 and eventually replaced, in 1963, by a new state housing agency 
called GESCAL (Gestione Case Lavoratori/Administration of Workers' 
Houses). For a thorough discussion of the financial and policy aspects 
of INA— Casa, see Lando Bortolotti, Storia della politica edilizia in 
Italia (History of building policy in Italy. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 

26. George Everard Kidder Smith, The New Architecture of Europe 
(Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1961), pp. 159-60. 

27. Douglas Haskell, "Risposta alle domande," Casabella continuity, no. 
251 (May 1961), p. 22. 

28. Luigi Moretti, "The Values of Profiles," trans. Thomas Stevens, 
Oppositions, no. 4 (October 1974), p. 118. 

29. Ibid., p. 116. 

30. In a similar vein, the steel "entablature" and corrugated surface of 
Franco Albini and Franca Helg's La Rinascente department store 
(1957—61, cat. nos. 659 — 60) in Rome asserts the mural character of the 
building. Since the corrugations contain the ducts for the heating and 
air-conditioning systems, the wall itself becomes the mark of the 
building's modernity and, at the same time, a recognition of the mural 
tradition of Roman architecture. 

31. Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola, "L'impegno della tradizione," 
Casabella continuity, no. 215 (April— May 1957), p. 64. 

32. Reyner Banham, "Neoliberty: The Italian Retreat from Modern 
Architecture," The Architectural Review 125, no. 747 (April 1959), p. 231. 

33. Sara Protasoni, "The Italian Group and the Modern Tradition," 
Rassegna 14, no. 52 (December 1992), p. 28. 

34. Ibid., p. 28. 

35. Ernesto Nathan Rogers, "Le preesistenze ambientali e i temi pratici 
contemporanei," Casabella continuity, no. 204 (February— March 1955), 
reprinted in Ockman, p. 202. 

36. Ignazio Gardella, "Risposta alle domande," Casabella continuity, no. 
251 (May 1961), p. 15. 

37. For illustrations and accounts of Italian megastructures, see Marco 
Dezzi Bardeschi, ed., Italian Architecture 1965— 1970 (Rome: ISMEO, 
1970); Metamorph Group, ed., Italian Architecture in the Sixties (Rome: 
Stefano De Luca, 1972); and Lara Vinca Masini, ed., Topologia e 
morfogenesi: Utopia e crisi dell'antinatura (Topology and morphogenesis: 
Utopia and the crisis of antinature. Venice: Edizioni La Biennale, 1978). 

38. Superstudio, "Invention Design and Evasion Design," Domus, 
no. 475 (June 1969), reprinted in Ockman, p. 440. 

S9s Dennis Doordan 

• A 

we mean 

Italian Design and the 
Complexity of Modernity 

Andrea Branzi 

market, no culture of planning capable of developing 
unified and incisive social theorems. Modernity in Italy was 
born more as artistic intuition than as the result of real 
processes of social and technological transformation. 
Furthermore, design developed there rather late compared 
to the rest of Europe and was unaccompanied by any 
adequate theoretical debate. The Futurists may have 
promulgated a scandalous, radical, and dynamic idea of 
modernity, but it was essentially divorced from reality. The 
first laboratories of applied art, organized by such right- 
wing Futurists as Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero, 
were more like applications of the Futurist code to the 
home rather than true design operations. What was totally 
lacking was the idea of industrialized production. 

In addition, one might point to the absence of any real 
Rationalist movement in Italy between the two world wars. 
Modernism there produced two great models of thought 
and aesthetic production, both of which were foreign to 
modern Rationalism. The first is Futurism, with its 
scandalous metaphors, the notion of technology as a 
dynamic element of social transformation, and the idea of 
modernity as a permanent revolution. The second is 
represented by Metaphysical art and by the Novecento 
movement, both of which aimed to reconstruct a deep- 
rooted continuity with the Latin past, even within the 
forms of modernity. The great political and cultural 
success of Fascism among intellectuals was caused at least 
in part by such hybridization of cultural categories. 
Mussolini nonetheless held up the Futurist revolution as the 
Latin identity, and continuity with the classical tradition as 
the scandal of Modernism. 

In Italy the works of the so-called Rationalists, even 
those of extraordinarily high quality, were produced by 
such isolated figures as Franco Albini, Luigi Figini, Ignazio 
Gardella, Giuseppe Pagano, Edoardo Persico, Gino Pollini, 
Giuseppe Terragni, and Giuseppe Vaccaro. They, however, 
were all architects who moved about the narrow frontier 
joining the territories of Futurism and Metaphysical art, of 
which their work now and then bears obvious marks. They 
were also exponents of an eccentric manner of designing — 
sometimes dynamic (as with Luciano Baldessarri), 
sometimes monumental (as with Giovanni Muzio), but 
never methodological, although their work often has great 
figurative energy. 

If architecture and design, for the European Modernists, 
was the locus of a quest for a possible unity of technologies 
and human experience, for the Futurists this locus was the 
metropolis, with its dynamism and its multiplicity of 
languages. The metropolis was the scene of an irreparable 
rupture between modernity and history, between public 
and private, between architecture and city, between 
intimism and technical development. Balla's "city that 
grows" is already a. fractal: the sign of a complex and 
abstract system that develops according to no destiny. 

Within the political and human scope of Italian 
Futurism lies another important key to understanding 
certain achievements of Italian culture of this century. Out 
of a purely behavioral subversion — "We wish to exalt 
aggressive movement, febrile insomnia, the racing step, the 
mortal leap, the slap and the punch," wrote Marinetti in Le 
Figaro in 1909 — Futurism began a course that would lead 
it first to experiment with the applied arts, as in the case of 

598 Design 

Balla, and later, through the work of Depero and his 
handicraft workshops in Rovereto, to prefigure in almost 
every respect what would become the language of Italian 
Rationalism. The fact that Italian Futurism, in its mature 
phase, gave birth to the exact opposite of itself ("Down 
with intelligence!" Marinetti had said), and that the 
abstract, dynamic forms of Futurism would engender a 
code of geometric forms from which the Italian 
Rationalists would take their cue, prefigured other 
transitions that Italian culture would achieve in later years. 

In 1925 Ivo Pannaggi executed what historians recognize 
as the first project ofkalian Rationalism: the furnishing of 
Casa Zampini. The oddity is that Marinetti hailed the 
interior of Casa Zampini as a Futurist achievement. This 
was an indirect confirmation that the work, which was rich 
in Internationalist references, was born on the boundary 
marking the transition from late Futurism to Modernism, 
and that it belongs to both. Thus out of the irrationalism 
of the early avant-garde was born the improper rationalism 
of the later vanguard: dynamic, problematic, experimental, 
but also (thanks to the influence of Metaphysical art and 
the Novecento movement) authoritarian, enigmatic, and 

The political conflict between Fascism and Rationalism 
arrived late; Rationalists and Fascists continued to work on 
the same projects for many years. In Germany and Russia 
the same tensions exploded sooner, and each of those 
revolutions took a very different course. The twenty-year 
collaboration between Fascism and Modern architecture in 
Italy came about by virtue of a very simple but efficient 
hypothesis: Fascism was realizing a new society politically, 
while the Modern movement in Italy was realizing the 
architecture appropriate to it. In this symbiosis, Fascism 
never renounced its presumption to being the tool of a 
radical modification of the social scene, whereas 
Rationalism never renounced its own presumption to being 
the new architecture for the new society. The crisis came to 
a head later, when the Rationalist architects began to look 
beyond architecture, as Pagano put it — beyond the role of 
a disciplinary revolution with a schizophrenic relationship 
to what was occurring politically. 

In Italian architectural culture, however, the principle of 
designing a new architecture for a new society would 
remain in place as the very definition of the Modern 
movement. This society might be fascist, democratic, 
reformist, or socialist, but in any case Italian architecture 
would present itself, always uselessly, as the operative tool 
of a political project (and not of actual power), as the 
constructive action of a social program that would never be 
carried out in full. 

In the period following World War II, Italian industry 
was weak, often backward. There were no national schools, 
museums, or theorists of design, yet out of this ensemble of 
seemingly negative circumstances arose the syndrome we 
might call "the Italian case" — that is, by exploiting specific 
positive situations it became possible to reverse the 
negative factors and to transform them into an entirely new 
strategic framework. What in fact was created in Italy was 
a different model of design, one that proved in certain ways 
to be an alternative to the classical European model. 

There are two types of modern culture in Europe, and 
each is bound, among other things, to the form of 

government in which it arises. On the one hand, there is 
the reformist modernity of the great democrat ic 
monarchies such as Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, The 
Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, which, hardly by 
accident, are also the countries in which Modernism was 
carried out with great formal continuity. This is an 
enlightened modernity, rational, reassuring, and broadly 
accepted by the public, to whom it offers new and real 
values. The other kind of modernity arises in more 
politically unstable and troubled countries like Italy, where 
modernity implies opposition, fracture, discontinuity, and 
crisis. It produces creative tension and polemical signs of 
great expressive vitality and high conceptual quality. Such 
an understanding of the modern generally engenders not a 
unified landscape of elegance and order but a contested 
field in which alternatives vie for prominence. 

For this reason it could be said that one of the 
distinguishing characteristics of Modern architecture in 
Italy lies precisely in its consideration of its own 
discontinuity with respect to the environmental and 
political context as a preliminary condition of the project 
itself. Whereas in the rest of Europe Modern architecture 
was nearly always the formal outcome of a complex balance 
of already stabilized urban and social values, in Italy it 
found itself acting within an uneasy context and a 
contested sociopolitical framework, first during the Fascist 
period and then in the thirty years of centrist governments 
after the war. The individual project, far from constituting 
a building block of continuity, always represented an 
alternative, the testimony of an opposition; its 
discontinuity with respect to the ongoing reality became 
its qualitative premise. From this derives the essentially 
polemical nature of Modern architecture in Italy, which is 
based more on opposition than on equilibrium. Its history, 
therefore, is made up of names rather than schools, of 
individual works rather than territorial units. 

Similarly, the struggle of Italian design, with its 
synergistic relationship to Italian architecture and its 
eccentricity with respect to the history of European design, 
is marked by a wealth of contradictions. Even in its initial 
experimental phase, in the 1950s, Italian design, which 
burst on the scene with an unexpected inventiveness and 
vigor, revealed itself as entirely separate from the tradition 
of international functionalism and untouched by the- false 
certitudes of an industrial culture based on the myth ot 
infinite mass production and the final product. Italian 
design developed its own equation, an uns r able equilibrium 
between the culture of consumption and the culture ot 
production, mediating between two opposed Utopias (final 
products and the endless transformation ot products) and 
searching for a solution that was never complete but always 
provided a residual, perfectible error, and therefore a 
possibility for further development. 

The critical code ot which Italian design is the vehicle 
has ensured that it hears the signs ot an a( five 
contradiction, a stimulating oscillation between 
integration and reje( non, between consensus and 
opposition. It is from this inner conflict that its great 
richness of expression and experiment was horn Tin 
contradiction is unresolved and perhaps, luckily, 
unresolvable. The absence of either a central sc hool or 
museum of design has, tor a long tunc-, proven favorable to 

$99 Andrta Bran i 

the development of a vision of design as a great, open- 
ended problem. Design, understood in this sense, has a 
dynamic history in a perpetual state of unfolding that can 
be kept up with only through the experimental laboratories 
and the many periodicals that promote their findings and 
posit new problematics. One might call it a theory of 
design aimed not at resolving problems but at finding 
new ones. 

Consumer culture was something entirely foreign to prewar 
Italy and Europe. The model of growth developed by 
European capitalism to overcome the grave economic crisis 
of the 1930s envisioned a process of accelerated 
industrialization, though within the canons of a stable 
society solidly organized by the great right-wing 
dictatorships. In this sense even the European design 
already defined by the Bauhaus did not envision adopting 
or promoting the logic of consumption, but rather that of 
production. The center of its attention was the factory, 
not the market. Its model for humanity was the worker, not 
the consumer. 

It was the United States, during this same period, that 
developed a model of growth based on individual and 
collective consumption to escape from its own Depression. 
Consumerism thus was born, and from this point on 
American design took a different path from European 
design, concentrating on products of great figurative 
strength (instead of structural research) and on great 
narrations (instead of critique). Products were designed not 
according to the logic of mechanics (the credo of the 
Bauhaus) but rather the logic of their effect, that is to say, 
velocity (the work of industrial designer Raymond Loewy, 
for example). Thus we have the supermarket, not the 
factory, and styling over rationalism. 

This ideology of consumption came face to face with 
European reformism, both fascist and democratic, when 
the Americans invaded Italy in 1943 and Allied troops 
landed in France in 1944. The result, beyond the eventual 
defeat of the Axis powers, was the defeat of a model of 
industrial production (headed in Germany by an architect, 
Albert Speer) upon which an entire class of intellectuals 
and politicians had conferred a deep cultural and moral 
significance. Whether fascist or antifascist, the European 
elites understood industry as a tool for reforming society. 
The American example, on the other hand, confronted the 
Europeans with the consumer ideology of immediate 
happiness, not future satisfaction, an ideology understood 
as the sole possible foundation for a real human society to 
which industry would bring immediate health, abundance, 
surplus, and well-being. 

The American example was simple and coarse, but it 
was also victorious. To a European culture accustomed to 
measuring itself against history as against a difficult 
stepmother, America offered the example of a total absence 
of history — almost like an absence of original sin. 
Domestic Italian functionalism could now compare itself to 
the great ergonomic systems of a flexible, hyperorganized 
army. New modes of behavior and fashion transformed the 
social body profoundly and immediately. For the first time 
since the Muslim invasions of the sixteenth century, 
Europe was violated at its deepest historical core, 
transformed by a civilization that differed from it down to 

its most secret cultural roots. Europe's historic values, and 
the entire operative framework of its moral culture, were 
transformed by a profound influx of new values and new 
Utopias. Democracy brought in a different sort of 
optimism, a new openness to the everyday. 

Nevertheless consumer culture encountered a good deal 
of opposition in Italy. The two parties to emerge from the 
Resistance as the dominant political forces, the DC 
(Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democratic party) and the 
PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party), 
were decidedly not in favor of modernizing society or of 
developing consumerism. For entirely different reasons, 
each party aimed at protecting the family economy and 
traditional education, the foundations on which Fascism 
too had built its social policies. Indeed the entire political 
culture of postwar Italy was against consumerism and 
looked upon the American way of life with great suspicion. 
In an October 1947 article published in Horizon, Marshall 
McLuhan wrote: 

A few months ago an officer in the American army, the Italian 
correspondent for Printer's Ink, remarked with dismay that 
Italians can tell you the names of all the government ministers 
but not the names of the favorite products of their country's 
celebrities. On top of this, the walls of Italian cities are more 
covered with political slogans than with commercial ones. 
According to the predictions of this officer, there is little hope that 
Italians will ever achieve a state of prosperity or inner peace 
unless they begin worrying more about the competition between 
rival brands of oat flakes or cigarettes than about the abilities of 
their politicians. 

In fact politics has always been the national sport of 
Italians. And this is not because they consider politics a 
sporting matter, but because, on the contrary, they 
consider even sports a political matter. 

The Italian intellectual class that emerged from the 
Resistance, which in large part had adhered to leftist 
programs of popular renewal, underwent a traumatic 
imprinting during this period that would profoundly affect 
its future. The defeat of the Left in the elections of 
April 18, 1948 made it impossible for intellectuals to 
participate actively in the material and cultural 
reconstruction of the country. Instead they watched from 
the sidelines as a chance to establish direct contact with the 
masses vanished. Confirmed in their historic separation 
from the country and its ruling powers, Italian intellectuals 
found themselves to be a "minority that is right in a 
country that is wrong." 

The historic turning-point of early postwar Italy drove 
people to a rediscovery of reality — of that very reality that, 
for too many years, had been mystified by the Fascists but 
in fact kept at bay. "We all feel," wrote novelist Cesare 
Pavese, "that we live in an age when it is necessary to bring 
words back to the solid, naked clarity of the time when 
man first created them for his own use." It is not difficult, 
as Manfredo Tafuri would later remark, to see the 
connection between what Pavese was saying and what was 
going on in all areas of cultural expression, from 
neorealism in cinema to literary and philosophical realism, 
from both the abstract and realistic tendencies in art to 
psychological functionalism in architecture, which soon 

600 Design 

thereafter became a subject of theory. Nevertheless the 
1950s, the era of realism, were more replete with myths and 
dreams than most other decades: one was forever in search 
of formulas that might miraculously mend the rift between 
culture and reality, that might make it possible to step over 
the institutional hurdles of politics and open up new 
channels of action (urbanism, functionalism, planning, 
sociology, design) to change the world. Design in turn 
created other myths: mass production, modularity, 
multidisciplinarity, the synthesis of the arts. The subject of 
interior design was one of the favorite themes of 1950s 
urban society, just as the movie theater was its intellectual 

Industrial design also represented the hope of bringing 
about, through the tools of production, the cultural 
revolution that was stifled by political institutions and by 
the clerical tradition. Design also made it seem possible to 
get around the impasses represented by Italy's culture and 
backwardness through the implementation of a program 
carried out together with industry. Industry was a new tool 
in a position to affect the country's reality directly and to 
change it in a controlled manner. Industrial design was 
immediately posited as a great means of administrating 
democracy, modernizing the country, and running a 
regulated market of private consumption. It is no accident 
that the first blueprint of the new Italian design was not for 
an industrial project per se but for the monument to the 
fallen in the German concentration camps, Cimitero 
Monumentale, Milan (cat. no. 605), designed in 1946 by 
Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, and 
Ernesto Nathan Rogers of the BBPR studio (whose other 
founding member, Gianluigi Banfi, had died in a German 
concentration camp in 1945). Design was not just about 
products; it meant anti-Fascism and new culture. It also 
involved the genuine interests of industry, which saw a 
chance to reassert on the national and international stages 
an immediate image of the Italian line that would 
brilliantly make up for any technical weaknesses in the 
product and thereby defeat the competition. 

Although the results might seem to confirm the 
opposite, in Italy the collaboration between industry and 
design has always been based on the principle of mutual 
autonomy — in the sense that Italian design has never 
presumed to exhaust its possibilities in a product's 
commercial success but has always defined itself in relation 
to the larger culture and to debates over the metropolis and 
over history in general. Similarly, Italian industry has never 
sought to turn design into a function of business; instead it 
has accepted an experimental, nonbusiness design as 
another part of the market. The success of industry lies 
precisely in its ability to be responsive to and guide this 
kind of creative energy; it does not treat design as a 
cultural crusade but rather exploits it within the 
parameters of its own business strategies. 

Generally speaking, the Italian design industry consists 
of small- to medium-size firms. One should not, however, 
be misled by size, for Italian design entrepreneurs are not 
like small manufacturers, who are bound to their plants. In 
Italy the historical concept of the factory as a closed circuit 
has been replaced by that of the factory as an open-ended 
entity related to a more complex, regionwide 
manufacturing sector, perhaps the best known of which is 

fig. 1. Gio Ponti. Distex armchair, 1953. 
Manufactured by Cassina. 

fig. 2. Carlo De Carli. Chair, model 68$. 
1^4. Manufactured by Cassina. 

601 Andrea /■ 

fig. }. BBPR (Lodovico Barbiano di 
Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti. and 
Ernesto Nathan Rogers}, Elettra 
armchair, 1958. Manufactured by 

fig. 4. Osvaldo Borsani, Turntabh 
console. 1956. Manufactured ' b) Tecno. 

the Brianza, the historic cradle of Italian design that 
stretches from Milan to the foot of the Alps. Here 
new technologies are revisited in a craftsmanly light, 
technologies that make possible the use of many different 
forms of production, with great organizational flexibility. 
Chairs, lamps, and other products either pass from one 
workshop to another, or come together as separate 
components in the final assembly, a method that 
guarantees the high quality of each phase of production. 
With regionwide access to research laboratories and 
microproducers, Italian design entrepreneurs may better be 
spoken of as converters and industrialists, not because they 
always own their own factories but because they can 
elaborate plans on an industrial scale. In this sense Modern 
design in Italy is the offspring of such companies as B & B 
Italia, Cassina, Kartell, and Zanotta, which pioneered 
design and small-scale industry from the 1960s on. 

Such an understanding of production mechanisms and 
forms of manufacturing should properly be spoken of as 
postindustrial, for it corresponds to a notion of the 
industrial not as hegemonic but as open to intense 
interchange with both the civic and creative cultures active 
in Italian society. Here the ownership of factories and 
machines does not suffice to define the manufacturer's role. 
The factory is no longer a place separate from society; it 
becomes a reflection of that society. 

Today the products of 1950s Italian design hardly ever 
look like true industrial products or authentic handicrafts. 
The great thrill they offer is one of expression; indeed, the 
limitation of much of the design of those years is how 
resolutely it signals a 1950s style (see figs. 1-4). This style, 
quickly attained and then consistently maintained except 
for a few internal modifications, was the most fitting 
representation of a design philosophy that was intentionally 
engaged in an intense, diligent, willful exploration of form, 
almost believing it could give unity and value, through the 
right form, to a reality that was contradictory and in some 
ways not understood. Although this may have constituted a 
limitation in terms of the culture of planning, in other 
ways it was a rich source of inspiration. It cannot be said to 
represent a design revolution, but it came close. 

The basis of the style, the design, which was developed 
on an architectural model, lay in the radical breaking down 
of the product, its reduction to simple, expressive forms, 
the identification of the structure with the object's outward 
signification, and the explicit flaunting of the materials of 
which it was made. It was a directly architectural way of 
confronting industrial design as the closing phase of a 
project that began with urban planning and, through 
architecture, arrived at the object and the tool. In actuality, 
however, this often consisted of an attempt to industrialize 
objects of furniture, which were conceived as components 
of a larger container — architecture — whose spatial and 
structural arrangement they reflected, and of which they 
were considered the practical realization. 

Despite the operational limits within which it was 
called upon to act, the excessive freedoms it sometimes 
faced, and the political and cultural misunderstandings 
within which it grew, Italian design in the 1950s enjoyed 
extraordinary popular success. Indeed it was so 
tremendously widespread, even on the international level, 
that it might be said to have been the first truly popular 

602 Design 

modern style. Perhaps its ability to represent, rather than 
resolve, the problems inherent in modern production 
facilitated its nearly uncontested adoption. In this sense 
the phenomenon of 1950s design exceeded the limits of the 
project out of which it was born and was greater than the 
sum of the individual designers working at the time, who 
actually participated in only one small part of its overall 
social application. It was a phenomenon that even went 
beyond the definition of design, for one took one's cue from 
design to make far-reaching applications in other sectors. 
In this paradoxical sense, although the design, 
architectural, and urban revolution ultimately may have 
failed, it enjoyed success as a stylistic code, which came to 
be used freely and indiscriminately. Even the small 
carpenter's workshop quickly learned to build cafe counters 
that looked as if they had been designed by Gio Ponti; the 
modest electrical shop immediately began to make lights 
that looked like those of Vittoriano Vigano; the local 
upholsterer amused himself by making models of 
armchairs that resembled those of Marco Zanuso. Such 
indiscriminate and irreverent pillaging led to an early 
formal renewal of the entire middle tier of Italian society: it 
was a style that definitively replaced Fascist tinsel and 
nineteenth-century provincialism, and made it possible to 
formulate, in a provisional yet complete manner, an initial 
conception of modern Italy. 

In general the designers themselves did not appreciate 
this free use of their stylistic codes, which from their point 
of view diluted their exclusivity. But just as television at 
the time was modifying the language of Italians and 
introducing them to new cultures of consumption, so 
design in Italy represented the first mass utilization of a 
style. It was also something more — for through the 
pointed table legs, the vinyl chair backs, the surrealist 
ashtrays, industry and society were bearing witness to a 
real renovation in cultural references. This in fact was the 
message that all 1950s design expressed in an almost frantic 
manner: it represented an optimistic faith in the country, 
in industry, in imagination. 

Much of the optimism of those years later proved to be 
naive. The economic boom of the late 1950s, represented 
both the start of a true secularization of Italian society and 
an explosion of the inner contradictions of the system. 
Industry could no longer simply be considered a cultural 
tool clandestinely exploited by aesthetic brokers to civilize 
the country further. Industry and economics were in reality 
far more complex mechanisms endowed with their own 
specific logic, and only political measures and planning 
could ensure the necessary stability. 

In the late 1950s Italian design itself underwent a critical 
and expressive maturation that developed on two different 
levels. First there was Neo-Liberty, which referred to Stile 
Liberty, Italy's Art Nouveau movement, which was named 
after the London company, Liberty. Neo-Liberty was at 
once a critique of anti-historicist Rationalism, a rejection of 
populism, and a polemical way out of the impasse of 1950s 
style. Gestural design was countered with the learned 
matrices of a historic culture, demagoguery was countered 
with a clearly bourgeois culture, one style was countered 
with another style. But Neo-Liberty was not only a 
polemical strategy; it provided as well the possibility of 
identity for an enlightened intellectual class still too fragile 

to assume the weighty responsibility of governing and 
renewing the country. In the years of the economic miracle, 
a new manner of understanding design was maturing: 
design was no longer conceived as a response to functional 
requirements but rather as a function of the creation of 
demand itself, and thus as an active tool for the 
modification of behavior and the creation of new functions 
and freedoms. Already in 1954 Ettore Sottsass, Jr. was 
writing: "When Charles Eames designs his chair, he 
designs not just a chair but a way of being seated; that is, 
he does not design for a function, but rather designs a 
function." This is the first sign of a new and different 
attitude toward the despised culture of consumption, and 
it was to have ramifications throughout Italian society. 

In 1953 Vittorio Valletta invested vast amounts of capital 
in the first great Italian assembly line. Its products, the 
Fiat 500 and Fiat 600, gave rise to mass motorization, as 
Henry Ford's Model-T had done decades before. Between 
1950 and 1964 the number of privately owned cars went 
from 342,000 to 4.67 million, and the number of 
motorcycles from 700,000 to 4.3 million. In 1958 only 
12 percent of Italian families owned a television set; by 1965 
this figure had risen to 49 percent. In the same period 
those owning refrigerators went from 13 percent to 
55 percent, those with washing machines from 3 percent to 
23 percent. In 1947 the Candy company produced one 
washing machine a day; ten years later, it was producing 
one every fifteen seconds. From 1958 to 1963 industrial 
production in Italy more than doubled (with a record 
average annual growth rate of 6.3 percent), and exports, 
especially to the new European Economic Community 
(EEC), grew an average of 14.5 percent a year. Italy began to 
export refrigerators, washing machines, cars, typewriters, 
plastic products, and precision instruments. Its electrical 
appliance industry became the third largest in the world, 
after that of the United States and Japan. 

This great leap forward, of course, produced grave 
cultural dislocations. As Paul Ginsborg wrote in Storm 
d'ltalia dal dopoguerra a oggi (History of Italy from the 
postwar period to today; 1989): "The first of these was the 
so— called distortion of consumption. A growth oriented 
toward exportation brought with it an emphasis on private 
consumer goods, especially luxury products, without any 
corresponding public consumption. Schools, hospitals, 
homes, transportation, all goods of primary necessity, 
would remain well behind the rapid growth in the 
production of private consumer goods." 

In 1958 the first Center-Left government with the direc 1 
participation of the Socialists offered to correct these 
imbalances. They proposed a kind of Italian New Dial, 
according to which a national path to growth was to be 
sought by tempering the savage laws of the tin- market 
with economic planning — a centralized state- regulation of 
the market. \ low tins regulation was to be ena< ted was 
nevet clearly stated, however, and the ( enter-Lefi i oalition 
ended up merely < oopting the- So< ialists in the government 
without carrying out .my stru< turaJ transformation of tin- 
national economy, a situation that t ontinued right up to 
tin- "Clean 1 lands" investigations into corruption begun in 
the early 1990s. 

The battle waged around tin- ( inter -Left was not onl) a 
political matter; it raised broader 1 ultural questions as 

603 Andrea Branzi 

fig. v Archizoom (Dario Bartolini, 
Lucia Bratolini, Andrea Branzi, 
Gilberto Corretti. Paolo Deganello. and 
Massimo Morozzi}, Mies armchair, 

fig. 6. Gruppo Strum {Giorgio Ceretti, 
Piero De Rossi, and Riccardo Rosso}, 
II pratone (The Big Field) divan, 
1969—70. Manufactured by Gufram. 

well, as the story of Italian design in the early 1960s clearly 
attests. It was assumed that all the processes of 
industrialization would, in due course, bring with them a 
rational transformation of both society and the material 
world. The disorder, the contradictions, the discontinuity 
of Italian society were attributed to backwardness, 
considered to be merely temporary realities destined to 
disappear during the process of industrial modernization. 
Design, for its part, was supposed to battle against 
commodities in favor of an intelligent and demystified 
industrial product. 

In those years the Arte Programmata movement — 
whose participants included such designers as Giovanni 
Anceschi, Enzo Mari (see cat. nos. 762, 765, 772), and 
Bruno Munari (see cat. nos. 748, 770, 771, 773), and the 
theoreticians Carlo Giulio Argan and Lea Vergine — was 
also involved in a parallel quest to develop a mass- 
produced, monological design program that, in the face of 
the prospect of the "death of art," sought to reestablish 
aesthetic signs using industrial technologies as a starting 
point. Their references were the gestalt theories of 
Germany's Ulm school, under the direction of Argentinian 
design theorist Tomas Maldonado, and they developed 
rigorous technological, linguistic, and creative metaphors 
for the modern world. In part they prefigure computer 
electronics, in part the utilization of mass production as a . 
scientific philosophy of method and history. They too were 
trying to combine the energy of industrial capitalism with 
the monological culture of socialism: they accepted 
technology but not consumerism. They wanted growth but 
not the complexity and diversification that would come 
with it. In this sense Arte Programmata really was the "last 
avant-garde" that Lea Vergine said it was: a single logical 
system, a rigid, abstract program for transforming reality. 
It was the last monotheistic movement, at the threshold of 
an entirely polytheistic age. 

It was, however, the contemporaneous Arte Povera 
movement — theorized by Germano Celant and practiced 
by Jannis Kounellis (see cat. nos. 212, 213), Mario Merz (see 
cat. nos. 214—16), Emilio Prini, and many others — that 
would mark an original rebirth of Italian art, based entirely 
on the use of "poor," natural materials beneath the 
interests of modern science. It was an art directed entirely 
toward a search for simple, anthropological gestures that 
gained power from their humanistic uncertainty. 

At the same time, in the United States, Pop art was 
being born. In 1964 it was presented in the American 
pavilion at the Venice Biennale, with works by Robert 
Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, and Roy Lichtenstein, while in 
Rome, Galleria Marlborough was exhibiting James 
Rosenquist's great Fill. Shortly thereafter Robert Venturis 
Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) began to 
circulate in Italy as well. 

Pop art overturned the ethics of Modernism, which 
aimed at transforming and reducing an unaccepted reality. 
Instead it celebrated the codes of mass communication, of 
advertising and consumerism, and thereby encouraged 
people to look at and accept the world in all its commercial 
reality and all its persuasive vulgarity. For the nascent, 
youthful, new avant-garde in Italy, however, consumer 
culture was not a tool for integration into the system. On 
the contrary it was a Trojan horse to be introduced into the 

604 Design 

citadel of social democracy — a missile capable of upsetting 
the balance of a moralistic society in the name of liberating 
gesture and behavior. In this way the system would move 
toward a more radical modernization. It was in this 
profoundly changed atmosphere that political and cultural 
processes took shape that would shortly thereafter usher in 
a new political era and a profound renewal of design. 

All of this produced an extraordinary capacity for theory 
and criticism that thrived in the very security system 
spawned by the international politics of the opposing 
Blocs. In those years the Cold War produced only two 
geopolitical centers, the United States and the Soviet 
Union, and turned the rest of the world into a great 
province or commissariat, with limited responsibilities. 
Partly because of that the 1950s, on an international level, 
was a provincial decade par excellence, marked by great 
imagination but also by a dramatic political void in which 
the individual had ceased to matter because politics had 
shifted to a planetary level separate from day-to-day life. It 
was a period in which people spoke about maximum 
systems yet lacked the tools to intervene in daily life, in 
which excesses of freedom served as counterattractions to 
the frustrations of governing. Italy was one country that 
tried to emerge from this provincialism in the decade that 

The fertile period from 1964 to 1968 was largely brought 
to an end by the events of 1968. In the field of design a new 
theorem of planning was beginning to mature. A new 
generation was coming into the spotlight and proposing a 
different way of interpreting reality: the discontinuity, 
diversification, and complexity of the physical and social 
world were no longer viewed as temporary conditions fated 
to disappear within the rational order produced by 
industrialization. Such contradictions instead were 
understood as destined to grow and become more 
complicated precisely by virtue of the growth of industrial 
labor; the world's complexity is industrialism's ripest fruit, 
not its precursor. The future held in store a world of 
extreme complexity, both social and material, and 
modernization would take place not among order but in 
the discontinuity of technologies and languages. 

Complexity thus became the category of reference of the 
entire new culture. The old Rationalist order could no 
longer provide us with the tools for understanding this 
reality; one would now seek a new, exalted rationality 
capable of confronting even the irrational, the emotional, 
the oneiric. This new reading of the world plunged into 
crisis both the old concept of classical modernity, which is 
based on the search for processes of simplification, and the 
old alignment of the Italian Left, which played its card of 
governance and opposition on this idea of planned 
modernization. And so, from a cultural point of view, the 
Italian postwar period was brought to an end, just as, a few 
years earlier, the postwar period had ended with the 
economic boom. Unfortunately the change was not 
accompanied by corresponding political renewal. 

This is not the occasion lor writing an essay on 1968 in 
Italy, but it should be pointed out that its peculiarity with 
respect to 1968 in France lies in its rootedness in the 
country's profound malaise and in the conflict that tins 
produced (to the point of terrorism) in civilian places such 
as factories, schools, universities, and city streets — though 

fig. 7. Superstudio (Cristiano Troaldo 
di Francia, Piero Frassinelli, 

Aleaatidro Magr/.\. Roberto Magr/s. 
and Adolf Natalim}, Bazaar sofa, 
1968. Manufactured by Giovannetti. 

60$ Andna lira ft : 

never in the government or in parliament, which remained 
impervious to structural reform. What this tormented 
period did produce of great originality, even compared to 
other European countries, was the elaboration of a new 
global idea of modernization. 

The idea of modernity as complexity was, for the most 
part, already present in the genetic structure of Italian 
postwar design — in its nonchalant ability to use both 
"high," industrial technologies and "low," handicraft 
technologies; in the search both for new languages of 
standardization and for the improvisation of anarchic and 
heretical signs; in the enviable ability to go from limited to 
mass production without conflicts of method. Italian 
design was produced in a country of contradictions that did 
not seek certainties in planning but rather new frontiers of 
growth, in accordance with the notion of Italian modernity, 
which in discontinuity finds its own true historical 

Already in 1966 Celant christened as Architettura 
Radicale a whole series of antiauthoritarian, 
antidisciplinary, experimental works that the Italian avant- 
garde had created and would continue to create throughout 
the 1960s and 1970s. This was the first true movement to 
criticize classical Modernism, and the artists allied 
themselves with the examples of Pop art, the English group 
Archigram, and the Viennese work of Hans Hollein and 
Walter Pichler, not to mention the new music, fashion, and 
texts of the youth generation. It is worth pointing out that 
the foremost of these avant-garde groups — such as 
Archizoom (see fig. 5, cat. no. 778), Gruppo Strum (see 
fig. 6), Superstudio (see fig. 7), and UFO (see cat. 
no. 777) — were the first to accept consumer culture as a 
new historical condition within which one must work with 
a critical eye, forever abandoning the elitist, outsider 
position so dear to European design. After a period of 
intense work on the theme of the metropolis (a theme in 
continuity with the Futurists, in this discontinuous 
history) these groups made an important strategic shift, 
choosing to work directly on the design of commodities, on 
the languages of the inducement to consumption. They all 
courageously chose to enter a compromised and difficult 
reality, seeking to create a new metropolis of objects. The 
renewal enjoyed by Italian design in the 1960s and 1970s 
did not, however, correspond to any similar renewal of 
national architecture, which rested precariously on its 
compositional traditions and waited until 1978 to confront 
the crisis of classical Modernism at the Venice Biennale 
under Paolo Portoghesi. 

Today Italian life is marked by a grave economic and 
moral crisis, while an era begun in the period between 1946 
and 1968 is coming to a definitive close. Complexity is no 
longer the primary cultural category of reference; socialism 
is vanishing, as is the notion of the unlimited growth of the 
system of production. For the first time we find ourselves 
living in a society that has only one model of 
development — postindustrial capitalism — and is faced 
wirh ^reat environmental and political limitations. The 
challenge for the future lies in the ability of this system to 
regulate itself from within and to reform itself constantly, 
so that it may overcome the constant crises of growth. 
Design, in this sense, is going back to being a strategic as 
well as .1 political tool, one capable of playing an active role 

in the construction of the lived environment. But that is 
already another story. And the work has already begun. 

Translated, from the Italian, by Stephen Sartarelli. 

606 Design 

Italian Industrial Aesthetics 

and the Influence 

of American Industrial 


Penny Sparke 

The year 1943 marked the end of Benito Mussolini's 
national Fascist rule in Italy and the beginning of 
economic, ideological, and cultural intervention by the 
Allies. From 1943 until the late 1950s Italy received large 
amounts of foreign aid, most of it from the United States. 
Between 1943 and 1946 it received $2.2 billion from the 
United States, and aid under the Marshall Plan contributed 
another $1.5 billion in the following five years.' Italy's 
stunningly successful Ricostruzione (Reconstruction) would, 
in fact, have been impossible without the funding provided 
by the Western powers. A new concept of "design" played a 
key role in the reconstruction of Italy, which took place on 
many fronts, and what subsequently was dubbed "Italian 
design" became widely thought of as being among Italy's 
significant contributions to postwar international culture. 

Given the key role of the United States in Italy in the 
postwar period, it would be useful to examine the influence 
that American industrial design, which was well 
established by the end of the 1930s, had on the 
development of Italian design. What influence did 
American methods of integrating design into systems of 
production and patterns of consumption have on its Italian 
counterpart? What influence did the styles of American 
products have on the work of Italian designers? To what 
extent did Italian designers look to the United States for a 
model of professional practice? And to what extent were 
conditions in Italy so unique that postwar Italian design 
evades such an international comparison? Such questions 
are worth examining in order to portray the way in which 
what we know of as "Italian design" — a movement that 
reached its apotheosis in the early 1960s — came into being. 

By 1939 the United States had already developed a highly 
institutionalized and emphatically commercial industrial- 
design movement, which was firmly rooted in an advanced 
industrial structure of mass production and in the model of 
individual consumption and democratic idealism that 
dominated American life in the interwar years. 2 This is 
generally considered to be the first example of a modern 
concept of design that came complete with a strategy for 
industrial intervention and an active and effective 
profession. Unlike earlier instances of industrial-design 
practice, which grew out of a reforming idealism that 
wished to break with the past and create a new, modern 
industrial culture — historians commonly cite the late- 
nineteenth- and early twentieth century designers 
Christopher Dresser in Great Britain' and Peter Behrens in 
Germany in this context — American industrial design 
developed primarily out of economic exigency and 
commercial pragmatism and only secondarily can be seen 
as a representation of that country's cultural and political 
program. When Eastman Kodak approached the American 
industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague to restyle its Box 
Brownie camera in 1927 and the Gestetner Duplicating 
Machine Company asked Raymond Loewy to redesign its 
duplicating machine, an early version of the photocopier, in 
1929, these companies were looking, in essence, to fend off 
their competitors by means of a new way of marketing 
their goods. The evocative streamlined forms that resulted 
were marks of an economy looking to visual appeal as one 
means of fighting its way out of the Depression. 

The particular type of industrial design that emerged 
from these and many similar initiatives in the United 

608 Design 

States throughout the 1930s came with a' set of free-lance 
professionals — complete with large offices and networks of 
collaborators — many of whom had arrived through 
advertising and store design at this new, highly lucrative 
career. The industrial designer's essential role was to enable 
large-scale manufacturers of consumer goods — whose 
factories were all organized according to Fordist production 
principles — to keep the wheels of private consumption 
moving by creating "dreams that money can buy." The 
success of this formula stimulated many such initiatives 
and, by the end of the decade, as the New \brk World's 
Fair of 1939 made abundantly clear, the American model of 
industrial design was in place and visible for all the world 
to see. 

In Italy in the 1930s, in contrast, the concept of 
industrial design, as well as that of a design profession, was 
only partly formed. What little of it existed had developed, 
for the most part, in isolation and far away from external 
influences. Even though the ceramics manufacturer 
Richard Ginori employed the architect Gio Ponti to 
provide designs (see fig. 1) for his factory products (a 
perpetuation of the Italian decorative-arts tradition) 4 and, 
at the very end of the decade, Adriano Olivetti employed 
the graphic designer Marcello Nizzoli to work as a designer 
within the machine division of his company, these were 
exceptions rather than the norm. Olivetti had traveled to 
the United States in the 1920s and visited the Ford Motor 
Company's River Rouge plant in Michigan. On his return 
to Italy he reorganized Olivetti's system of production, 
recognizing the importance of design in this system. Such 
isolated examples apart, however, Italian manufacturing in 
the interwar years was generally small scale, craft based, 
and traditional in orientation. Technological and 
consumer-goods industries were still few and far between, 
and where the creation of the material environment was 
concerned, architecture was the focus for debate, both 
aesthetic and ideological. 

In the decade following 1945, however, the concept of 
industrial design, complete with its design profession, 
began to find a place on Italian soil. To some extent the 
political conditions prevailing in Italy in the late 1940s and 
early 1950s were dictated by those in the United States. 
When, for example, the Communists were finally expelled 
from the coalition government in 1947, it was clear that 
this was largely the result of American attempts to mold 
the new Italian democracy. The Marshall Plan was not 
merely charity but a means of keeping Europe as far as 
possible out of the Communist Bloc, in addition to turning 
Europe into a viable trading partner for the United States. 
There was therefore strong pressure from the United States 
on Italy to develop the same conservative model of political 
democracy that characterized its own political system, as 
well as to adopt the Fordist model of industrial 
manufacturing that had dominated American production 
since early in the century. Aid included, in fact, not only 
transfers of money but also of know-how, and groups of 
Italian industrialists visited American plants to see how 
the transformation could be achieved on the ground. 

If the political and industrial climate of late- 1940s Italy 
was infused with a strong American flavor, did it penetrate 
the nascent world of industrial design as well? The pages of 
the magazine Downs, an influential architectural and 

fig. 1. Gio Ponti, Porcelain vase, 
late 1920s. Manufactured by Richard 

609 /'(>/>/) y 

fig. 2. Vico Magistretti. Bookcase and 
folding armchair, 1946. Illustrated in 
Domus, March 1946. 

fig. }. Marco Zanuso, Sofa-bed, 19$$. 
Manufactured by Arflex. 

design journal that had been in existence since 1928 (it 
ceased publication for a few years during World War II but 
was reestablished in 1947), bear witness to the shifts in the 
ideological climate that took place in the world of design 
thinking in the second half of the 1940s. In many ways they 
mirror the shifts in political thinking and the move toward 
an American model of democracy and consumption. 

In the January 1946 edition of Damns, for instance, the 
left-wing architect Ernesto Nathan Rogers made a moving 
plea for a design rebirth that would be an intrinsic part of 
Italy's complete program of reconstruction, operating in the 
spheres of politics, culture, and economics: "It is a question 
of forming a taste, a technique, a morality, all terms of the 
same function. It is a question of building a society."' 
Rogers also coined the phrase "from a spoon to a city,'" 1 in 
an attempt to show the need for design to move forward 
simultaneously across all the disciplines if it were to have a 
significant effect on cultural and ideological regeneration 
as a whole. For Rogers this inevitably meant the 
preeminence of architecture in realizing his vision, but he 
also felt that it should be accompanied by all the design 
disciplines. On one level Roger's words seem to evoke 
Loewy's famous slogan "from a lipstick to a steamship,"" 
which suggests the multidisciplinarity of American 
industrial design. The equivalence, however, is only 
superficial. American industrial designers had their roots 
in the generalist area of advertising, and as a result they 
could apply their skills to a broad spectrum of industries. 
Rogers's understanding of design derived from another 
context entirely, that of the idealistic, left-wing program of 
European architectural and design Modernism, which 
embraced multidisciplinarity, internationalism, and 
socialist revolution. 

In 1946 Rogers's vision of the new "taste," which was at 
one with the program of industrial reconstruction and the 
cultural and ideological underpinnings of the new Italy, 
was manifested in practical terms in the need to construct 
vast numbers of basic homes to meet the needs of Italy's 
many homeless. Countless pictures of building programs 
filled the pages of Domus at this time. Rogers also 
introduced the concept of La casa umana (The human 
house), which was predicated upon the continuity of the 
family and which placed the human being firmly at the 
center of things. As he himself explained, "In the program 
of reconstruction, the real and the ideal home must be seen 
as parts of the same problem." 8 Design was part of the 
same picture. At this time a number of young architect- 
designers, among them Paolo Chessa, Ignazio Gardella, 
Vico Magistretti (see fig. 2), and Marco Zanuso (see fig. 3), 
proposed ranges of simple, flexible, and compact furniture 
items that could be used within limited living spaces. 
Furniture became, in this context, an important symbol of 

Rogers's aim, in brief, was the construction and 
furnishing of 15 million homes, which he felt had to be 
built to make up for the housing already needed before the 
war and to replace homes destroyed during the hostilities. 
He formulated these aims within the ideological 
framework of European architectural Modernism, which 
included design. These ideas were expressed at a time 
when there was still a strong left-wing (including 
Communist) element within the Italian coalition 

610 Design 

government. When this element was expelled in 1947 the 
DC (Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democratic party) 
came to the fore and American influence became more 
evident. This shift was also reflected in the world of design. 
In 1948 Ponti, after an absence of five years, once again 
took over editorship o£Domus, and the ideological 
emphasis in the editorial content changed to one that was 
in line with the American model of private consumption. 
The American idea that democracy is built up on the 
basis of a shared materialism began to filter into the design 
discussion. By 1953 Ponti could write, "Our ideal of 
the 'good life' and the level of taste and thought expressed 
by our homes and manner of living are all part of the 
same thing.'"' 

From this point onward design in Italy could be seen to 
have been ideologically linked to an ideal of improved 
standards of living based upon the consumption of 
previously unobtainable consumer goods, many of them 
produced in Italy for the first time in these years. Although 
some of these goods — vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, 
television sets, and eventually cars — were consumed fairly 
democratically by the Italian home market, it was to the 
middle-class residents of cities in the North, within the 
industrial triangle of Milan, Turin, and Genoa, that goods 
with a strong design input were directed in the early years 
of the 1950s. Although Italy's economic boom was based on 
the rising graph of its exports in this period, the real 
expansion did not take place until after 1957 and Italy's 
entry into the European Economic Community (EEC). 
Prior to that time it depended strongly on a home market 
to consume large numbers of the kinds of goods that it 
would eventually direct toward the international 
marketplace. Goods manufactured on a small to medium 
scale, such as furniture items, lighting, and certain 
electrical appliances for the home, all played a role here and 
lay at the heart of the new Italian design movement. 

Thus by the early 1950s there was a sense in which 
design in Italy functioned to keep the wheels of home 
consumption moving, as they had been in the United 
States before it. In the Italian context, however, that 
consumption was aimed primarily at the middle class 
rather than at the whole of society, and it was represented, 
therefore, by a higher level of visual sophistication. This 
was evident in the aesthetics of many of the goods in 
question. Whereas in the United States the bulbous forms 
of the style known as "streamlining" were frequently 
adorned with chrome strips that acted as evocative and 
seductive highlights emphasizing their popular appeal, in 
Italy a more somber version of this idiom took hold, 
demonstrating a more ambivalent attitude toward mass 
consumption. In Italy's streamlined objects sensuality was 
combined with references to abstract, organic sculpture. 
This suggested a more sophisticated market, one that 
understood the world of fine art, to some extent, and that 
wished to participate in that world through the 
consumption of goods. 

Among the seminal objects in what came to be called 

"the Italian line were a number of mass-produced metal 

goods — among them Marcel lo Nizzoli's Lexicon 80 
typewriter (1948, fig. 4) for Olivetti; Piaggio's Vespa motor 
scooter (1946, cat. no. 735); the Cisitalia car designed by 
Battista Pininfarina (1951); and Ponti's La Pavoni 

fig. 4. Marcello Nizzoli, Lexicon 80 
typewriter, 1948. Manufactured />) 

fig. s- Gio Ponti. Coffee machine. 1947. 
Manufactured by La Pavoni. 

fni Pi nn\ Sparki 

fig. 6. Gino Sarfatti. Hanging lump, 
model 20 j2, ips3- Manufactured by 
Arte luce. 

fig. j. Poster fur the Fiat 600D. io0. 


coffeemaker (1947, fig. 5) — whose pressed and stamped 
forms exhibited the familiar curves of streamlining. At the 
same time this was stripped-down streamlining, which 
appealed through the balance and proportion of its curves 
rather than through the surface impact of shiny chromium. 
Those details that were emphasized were structural rather 
than aesthetic — a good example being the seam on the 
body of the Lexicon 80, used by Nizzoli to reveal, rather 
than conceal, the fabrication process of the product in 
addition to creating a strong visual highlight. This was a 
version of streamlining that merged, on the one hand, with 
the earlier functionalist tenets of Modernism, which 
decreed that "form ever follows function,"" and, on the 
other, with the biomorphic preoccupations of such 
contemporary abstract sculptors as Jean Arp, Barbara 
Hepworth, and Henry Moore. The sculptural influence was 
particularly significant in the area of furniture design, as in 
the curved wooden and glass forms of works by the Turin- 
based designer Carlo Mollino (see cat. no. 758) and the 
bulbous pieces filled with the new polyurethane foam by 
such designers as Osvaldo Borsani (see cat. no. 757) and 
Zanuso. Sculptural associations were even clearer in many 
of the designs for lighting from this period — items by 
Gino Sarfatti for Arteluce (see fig. 6), for instance, which 
closely resemble the hanging mobiles of Alexander Calder. 
At the same time, however, the organic aesthetic was also 
visible in contemporary furniture designs by the American 
Charles Eames, demonstrating that this new art-inspired 
approach toward design was influential on both sides of the 
Atlantic. And in fact Eames's designs were frequently 
illustrated in Domus in the late 1940s. 

In the area of consumer appliances and machinery, 
however, the high-culture, fine-art element of early Italian 
postwar design clearly distinguishes them from their 
American streamlined predecessors. The niche market that 
Italian manufacturers — most of them still relatively small 
compared with their American counterparts — aspired to 
cater to, first at home and later through exports, was, 
unlike the American mass market, characterized by 
cultural sophistication and social elitism. Because of the 
traditionally modest scale of its manufacturing industry 
(with only a handful of exceptions, such as Fiat, 
Montecatini, Montedison, Olivetti, and Pirelli); its 
longstanding reputation as the home of fine art; the much 
more structured and hierarchical nature of its indigenous 
society; and its decision to enter the international 
marketplace through niche rather than mass marketing, 
Italy demonstrated its newfound sense of modernity in a 
rather different material manner from that of the United 
States. Thus, while clearly influenced by the general 
framework offered by the United States, to some extent the 
discussion in Italy in the decade after the war focused on 
the concept of "industrial aesthetics" rather than that of 
"industrial design." During these years the Triennale 
exhibitions in Milan, which were important showcases of 
international design trends, always contained displays of 
Italian goods. The titles of these displays — La Forma 
dell'Utile (The form of the useful, 1951) and La Produzione 
dell' Arte (The production of art, 1954) — bear witness to the 
Italian preoccupation with aesthetics. 

If Italy was beginning to define its Modern design 
movement in a way that had as much to do with its own 

6 1 2 Design 

traditions, its own industrial and sociocultural 
characteristics, and its own postwar trade strategies as it 
did with influences from the United States, this did not 
mean that the Americans had no interest in what was 
going on in that country. On the contrary they clearly saw 
Italian manufacturing and exports as a vital element in the 
trading relationship between the two countries. Such a 
perception is reflected in the organization of Italy at Work, 
an exhibition of Italian goods that toured the United States 
in 1951. The show was essentially an American initiative, 
conceived in the United States by an American body called 
the House of Italian Handicrafts, backed by a number of 
American museums, sponsored by the Export Import Bank 
of the United States, and supported in Italy by the 
Economic Administration Council, which was directly tied 
to the Marshall Plan. It represented, therefore, an attempt 
to develop trade links between the United States and Italy 
and to make the American marketplace aware of craft and 
design developments in Italy. In 1950 Walter Dorwin 
Teague was a member of a group that visited Italy to select 
goods for the exhibition. This direct connection between an 
eminent American industrial design practitioner and the 
nascent Italian industrial design movement is a clear 
instance of the United States wanting to establish links 
with Italy in this arena. It provides evidence of an 
American physical presence and suggests that active 
attempts were being made on the part of the United States 
to encourage the development of design awareness within 
Italy, an awareness that was clearly tied to the export trade. 
The visitors toured a range of Italian workshops and 
factories, and Teague wrote, in the introduction to a 
catalogue that accompanied the exhibition, that Italian 
design "represented the vigorous flowering of an early 
spring, an upsurge of the Italian vitality that seems to have 
stored itself up during the long gray fascist interim, 
waiting for this day of the sun again.'" 2 

Such a statement was loaded with ideological overtones, 
as Teague was committed to the symbolic role of design in 
the kind of democracy that he favored, that is, the 
conservative American example. In 1950 he saw signs that 
Italy was moving in a similar direction. At the same time, 
however, the model of design that emerged from Italy at 
Work was characterized by its strong craft bias. As such it 
had little in common with the much more industrially and 
marketing-oriented American version. This suggests that 
Teague and his team were looking for an Italian design that 
would be an equivalent to (in the sense of representing 
Italy's culture), rather than a mirror of, American design. 

The artifacts selected for Italy at Work ranged from 
objects of local craft manufacture that had remained 
unchanged for centuries — faience figurines, mosaics, and 
straw goods — to industrially manufactured furniture in 
the Modern style and in modern materials by such 
designers as Franco Albini (see cat. no. 754) and Mollino, 
and mass-produced consumer appliances and machinery, 
among them an adding machine by Nizzoli for Olivetti and 
a home coffeemaker from the Robbiati company. Tradition 
and innovation stood alongside each other, and craft and 
industrial production were seen as two ends of a single, 
continuous process. 

The catalogue itself recognized the way in which Italian 
design, especially in the area of furniture, was both 

influenced by the United States and yet functioned 
independently of it: 

Much interesting work is being done b\ those architect dt signers 
who are particularly devoted to the functionalist tht or) . I L rt 
the influence of advanced American design is very apparent. 
This approach is evident in the combination living and dining 
room by Carlo Mollino. In contrast with this is the fret 
decorative style of the group led by the architect Gio Ponti u host 
fertile imagination and decorative ingenuity produced the 
unique design for the living room. 

In this context it was the difference, and therefore the 
special appeal, of Italian goods that was of interest to the 
United States. At the same time, however, America 
continued to provide a model on the level of both 
manufacturing and consumption and in the area of 
professional design practice. The very notion of modernity 
in 1950s Italy reverberated with American associations of 
Fordism and conspicuous consumption. This was especially 
apparent at the end of the decade, with the economic 
miracle. At this time the expanded home market for 
consumer goods became increasingly materialistic and 
status conscious, such that ownership of a car, a washing 
machine, and a television was seen as a vital component of 
a modern lifestyle by an increasingly large section of de- 
population. With television also came the influx of 
American television programs and, with them, the 
exposure of Italian audiences to American kitchens and 
living spaces. This was also the time when it was relatively 
more expensive to buy meat in Italy than to invest in a new 
refrigerator.' 4 

It does not necessarily follow, however, that the 
similarity in manufacturing and consumption patterns 
between the United States and Italy led to an identical 
approach to the question of design. Italy evolved its own 
way of thinking about design, even in the context of large- 
scale manufacturing. Fiat, for example, moved into a 
Fordist manufacturing mode in the early 1950s, resulting in 
the mass production of the Fiat 500 and Fiat 600 (see 
fig. 7). For many Italians, a Cinquecento or Seicento was their 
first car purchase, just as the Model-T Ford had been tor 
Americans back in the early part of the century. At the 
same time, although Fiat made a deliberate decision to 
develop small, functional, and basic automobiles, the result 
reflected a sophisticated sense of design and marketing in 
which difference was a key element. These Fiats, which 
exhibited the stripped-down streamlining particular to 
Italian design, provide yet another example ot the evolution 
of a consistent and characteristic ally Italian aesthetic 

Similarities in methods of mass production, differences 
in models of design and marketing strategies, was a pattern 
applied toother large-scale Italian Industries as well, 
among them plastic s and office mac hinery. Following the 
example- ot the United States, [talj expanded its production 
ot petrochemical man-rials in the postwar /ears and move d 
into the manufac ture oi plastic ( onsumer goods as a means 
ot using those- materials. Even in the produi tion ol sue h 
mundane goods as buc kets and washing-up how Is, 
however, the model oi design that was utilized had more in 
common with fine art than with mass marketing. The work 
of Gino Colombini for Kartell (see fig. 8), for ins tan 

6l I l\>i>t\ S/ 

fiy. x. (,iii<i( olombini, ' overed 
polyethylene pail, model Kb 1146, rpf4. 
Tht W11 1 inn oj Modern Art, New York, 

Gift a/ Philip ln/inum. 

p Supi 1 tudio Quaderni tablt 
rp 1 Manufactured by Zanotta 

brightly colored and aesthetically pleasing, was presented 

as an exercise in pure form. 

The Italian design profession was consolidated in 1956 
with the formation of its own body, the AIM (Associazione 
per il Disegno Industriale/Association for Industrial 
I )esign). Like the Americans before them, Italian designers 
worked for the most part on a free-lance basis servicing the 
needs of a wide range of industries. Also like the 
Amerir ans, they worked on the body shells of such goods 
as typewriters, vacuum cleaners, radios, and sewing 
machines, having little or nothing to do with their inner 
components or their technological requirements. They were 
all therefore stylists of a sort. There, however, the 
resemblance ends. Italy's designers were mostly architects 
mi her than graphic artists by training, and they worked, 
for the most part, either singly or in small teams, without 
the collaboration of the marketing and business partners 
who were so vital to their American counterparts. Most 
American industrial designers worked with several offices 
numbering more than a hundred employees, including 
teams of draftsmen and technical assistants. While the 
Americans offered a wide spectrum of services, from 
pa* kaging to corporate identity to market research to 
prototyping to prodiu t design, the Italians tended to work 
only on such architecturally oriented projects as interiors, 
exhibitions, furniture design, and lighting, with small 
forays into product design. If the Italian designers were 
ar< hite< ts by training in the postwar years, they functioned 
more like fine artists in small studios, in the tradition of 
their Renaissance ancestors. Some, like Ettore Sottsass, Jr., 
who was also a sculptor, ( arried on both artistic and craft 
I >ra< t i( es at the same time. 

It was in the set ond half of the- 1950s that the American 
notion of "industrial design" (as opposed to the indigenous 
term "industrial aesthetics") entered into the Italian design 
debate in a visible way. Growing adherence to this concept 
meant that the designers increasingly saw themselves 
Operating within an international arena, rather than simply 
within a strictly Italian < onuxt. While this coincided with 
Italy's in< reasingly important role within the international 
<■< onomy, the country also began to emancipate itself from 
the American economy and to become more dependent 
Upon that of Europe, where "Italian design" had a strong 
presence by the end of the decade. 

As 1 he economi< boom began to tail off in the early 
[960s, signs of an "Italian dualism" began to manifest 
themselves. Su< h a dualism refers not only to the cultural 
differences between Italy's North and South but also to the 
country's dual industrial structure, which included both 
large, < apitabintensive companies and small firms (many of 
them functioning within the tax-evading "black 
ei onomy"). The idea also had iik reasing relevance in the 
area of design, denoting, for instance, Italy's capa< ity to 
absorb American ideas and strategies but also, 
simultaneously, to evolve an indigenous design movement 
based not only upon its own traditions but also upon its 
own postwar ( ultural identity and economic strategies. 

Throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s the Italian 
design movement went from strength to strength, proving 
10 be one of the < ountry's most powerful assets in the 
international e< onomy and earning for Italy a high level of 
respe< t for its renewed < ultural identity. Like the United 

Cii/) Design 

States before it, Italy had used design as a key strategy 
both in its trade tactics and in establishing an image for 
itself at home and abroad. In the United States, however, 
that image had focused on the idea of a democracy that 
allowed a high standard of living for all its inhabitants, a 
democracy that was, in turn, represented by material 
possessions and by its commitment to technological 
progress. Italy defined its postwar entry into international 
economic and cultural life with a much more overtly high- 
culture message. 

By the mid-1960s, however, there were signs both of a 
shift away from the impact of American ideas and a loss of 
faith in the ideology that had hitherto underpinned the 
movement known as "Italian design." As workers went on 
strike and, in the second half of the decade, students 
protested, many younger architect-designers — among 
them such groups as Archizoom (see cat. no. 778), Gruppo 
Strum, and Superstudio (see fig. 9), and such individuals as 
Sottsass — began to question the idea of design as a symbol 
of status and as a handmaiden to the manufacturing 
industry. In some ways this represented a turning away 
from the American model of design pragmatism and a 
search for a new way forward that might embrace a more 
idealistic and radical role for both designer and design. 

The influence of the United States on the formation of 
an Italian industrial design movement is ultimately hard to 
quantify. Through the agency of the aid it gave to Italy in 
the postwar years, the United States provided Italy with a 
strong model on many fronts. It is also clear that American 
precedents influenced both the framework within which 
design functioned and many of its internal characteristics. 
More than that, however, it is difficult to assess. American 
influence, throughout the period under review, was 
continually offset by forces that were particular to Italy— 
by, for example, the special way in which its industry 
functioned, its social structure operated, and the designers 
defined themselves in relation to both. Above all, the 
unprecedented international success and influence of Italy's 
own design movement, which was fully formed by the 
middle of the 1950s, suggests that Italy not only learned 
much from the United States but also that it went 
significantly beyond that lesson to evolve a model of design 
that was, in the final analysis, indubitably its own. Italian 
design has never functioned solely as part of a commercial 
strategy, but has always been a deeply rooted cultural and 
ideological phenomenon stimulating debates that have 
both mirrored and influenced broader sociocultural issues 
in postwar Italy. 

1. Martin Clark, Modern It,//) 1871 rp8o (London: Longman, 1984), 
p. 348. 

2. See, for example, Penny Sparke, "From a Lipsti< k to .1 Steamship 
the Birth ot the American Industrial Design Profession, in Terry 
Bishop, ed., Design History: Fad or Function. (London: Design ( ouncil, 
1978); and Jeffrey Meiklc. Twentieth-Century Limited: Industrial D 

in America 192$ rpjp (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 19 9) 

3. See Stuart Durant, Cbristopt r Dn tser (London: Academj I ditions, 
1993), p. 23, where tins < laim is made, 

4. The Italian architect Gio Pond collaborated with the < erami< s 
manufacturer Richard Ginori from 1923101939 Mm hot Ponti's work 
for Ginori was in the neoclassii al Novcc en to style, I k also pro> ided 
designs, in the 1930s, tor tin decorative-arts company Fontana Ami 

5. Ernesto Nathan Rogers, "Editorial," Domus, no. 2,05 ( January [9 
p. 3- 

6. Rogers coined the phrase "from a spoon to .1 1 ity" as tin title tor an 
exhibition in Turin in 1940. 

7. Raymon Loewy, Never Leave Well Enough Alone (New York, 1951 ». 
p. 32. 

8. Rogers, p 5. 

9. Gio Ponti, "Italy's Bid on the World Market," Interiors, February 

195!, p. 79- 

10. These are described in an article written by the Fren< h graphic 
designer Frederick 1 Icnrion, "Italian Journey," /)< >/:,'/ ( Design Council, 
London), January 1949, p. 23. 

11. This much-quoted phrase derives from Louis. Sullivan, "The Tall 
Office Building Artistically Considered," Lippincotts, Januarj 1896, 

12. Walter Dorwin Teague, "Foreword," Italy at Work: //<' Renaissana 
in Design Today (Rome: Compagnia Nazionale Artigiana, 1950), p, i. 

13. Italy at Work, p. 27. 

14. Donald Sassoon, Contemporary Italy: Politics, Economy and Society 
Since 104s (London: Longman, 19S6), p, J3, 

615 /'( nny Spark 

j24- Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Children's camera, 1964. Wood 
model, fabricated in 1993 by 
Giovanni Sacchi (based on original 
plaster prototype), 10 x 15 x 10 cm. 
Collection of Achille Castiglioni, 

725. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

KR 126 stereo system, 1966. 

Lai quered wood shell and aluminum; 

closed: 92 x 62 x 36.5 cm; open: 

70 x 140 x 36.5 cm. Manufactured by 

Brionvega. Lent by the manufacturer, 

Cernusco sul Naviglio (MI). 

726. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Spatter vacuum cleaner, 1956. Plastic, 
leather, metal, and felt, 38.8 x 14.6 x 
15 cm. Manufactured by R.E.M. di 
Rossetti Enrico. The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York, Gift of the 

727. Marco Zanuso and 
Richard Sapper 

Done) l-j portable television, 1962. 
ABS plastic housing, 35 x 36 x 30 cm. 
Manufactured by Brionvega. Lent by 
the manufacturer, Cernusco sul 
Naviglio (MI). 

728. Marco Zanuso and 
Richard Sapper 

Grillo (Cricket) folding telephone, 

1965. ABS plastic housing, 

7 x 16 x 8 cm. Manufactured by 

■ 1 lull, in. 1 Telecommunicazioni 
Siemens. The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift ol the 
manul.ii turer, 

729. Marcel lo Nizzol/ 
Lettera 22 (Letter 22) portable 
typewriter, 1950. Enameled metal 
housing, 8.3 x 29.8 x 32.4 cm. 
Manufac tured by Olivetti S.p.A 

VI idi rn An, 
fori Gift ol Olivetti Corp. of 
Ami : 

730. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. and 
Perry A. King 

Valentine portable typewriter, 
1969. ABS plastic housing, 
10.2 x 34.3 x 35 cm. Manufactured 
by Olivetti, S.p.A. The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York, Gift of 
Olivetti Underwood. 

731. Mario Bellini 

TCV 250 video display terminal, 
1966. Body: sheet steel and vacuum- 
cast ABS plastic plate; cover: cast- 
injected ABS plastic, 93.5 x 91.6 x 
55.8 cm. Manufactured by Olivetti, 
S.p.A. The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York, Gift of the manufacturer. 

732. Gino and Nani Valle. 
John Myer, and Michele 

Cifra ? (Number 5) clock, 1955. Plastic 
housing, 17 x 27 x 11 cm. 
Manufactured by Solari. Collection 
of the Estate of Alfredo Carnelutti, 

75j. Rodolfo Bonetto 

Magic Drum portable radio, 1968. 
ABS plastic housing, 12 cm high, 10 
cm diameter. Manufactured by 
Autovox. Bonetto Design Collection. 

734. Ermenegildo Prcti 

1st 11.1 automobile, 1952-53. 132 x 
225 x 134 cm. Manufactured by Iso. 
Collection of Enrico Mirani, 

755, Corradino D'Ascanio 

Vespa (Wasp) motorscooter, 1946. 
120 x 191 x 71 cm. Manufactured by 
Piaggio Veicoli Europei S.p.A. 
Lent by the manufacturer. 

736. Dante Giacosa 
Nuova $00 (New $00) automobile, 
1954. Wood prototype, fabricated by 
Reparto modellatori Fiat Mirafiori, 
130 x 290 x 130 cm. Fiat S.p.A., 

( 1 ill lii Stone (l. 

737. Battista Pinin Farina 
.■mi I a Mam automobile, [963. 
Fiberglass model, fabricated by 
Pininfarina, 2 i x X4.5 x J3.5 < m. 
Manufactured by Ferrari. Pininfarina 

738. Battista Pinin Farina 

2$o Le Mans automobile, 1963. 
Fiberglass model, fabricated by 
Pininfarina, 23 x 88 x 33.5 cm. 
Manufactured by Ferrari. 
Pininfarina Collection. 

739. Battista Pinin Farina 
Cisitalia 202 automobile, 1947. Sheet 
metal model, fabricated by 
Pininfarina, 24 x 78.2 x 30 cm. 
Manufactured by Fiat S.p.A. 
Pininfarina Collection. 

740. Gio Pont 1 

Superleggera (S/iperlight) two-tone 
chair, 1957. Lacquered wood 
prototype with plastic-covered seat, 
82.5 x 40 x 45 cm. Collection of Lisa 
Ponti, Milan. 

741. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. 1950-55. 

Transfer-printed porcelain, 

26 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

Fornasetti. Fornasetti Collection, 


742. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. 1950-55. 

Transfer-printed porcelain, 

26 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

Fornasetti. Fornasetti Collection, 


743. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. 1950-55. 
Transfer-printed porcelain, 16 cm 
diameter. Manufactured by 
Fornasetti. Musee des Arts 
Decoratifs de Montreal, Gift of 
Fornasetti S.r.l. 

744. Joe Colombo 

Chair, model 4867, 1968. Injected 
ABS plastic, 70 x 50 x 50 cm. 
Manufactured by Kartell. S.p.A. 
Lent by the manufacturer, Noviglio. 

74$. Giandomenico Belotti 

Chair for indoors and outdoors, 1962. 
Glazed steel and PVC, 83.5 x 40 x 
Sis cm. Manufactured in 1979 by 
Alias as the Spaghetti chair. Private 
collection, Milan. 

746. Vico Magistretti 

Selene stacking chair, 1969. 
Fiberglass-reinforced plastic, 
74.9 x 47 x 50.2 cm. Manufactured 
by Artemide S.p.A. The Museum 
of Modern Art, New York, Gift of 
the manufacturer. 

747. Gae Aulenti 

Pipistrelln (Bat) table lamp, 1966. 
White opal methacrylate and 
stainless steel, with lacquered base, 
86 cm high, 55 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Martinelli. Private 
collection, Milan. 

748. Bruno Munari 

Lalzii (Stocking) tubular pendant 

lamp, 1964. Elastic-fabric tubing 

and metal rings, 165 cm high, 

40 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

Bruno Danese. Courtesy Association 

Jacqueline Vodoz and Bruno Danese, 


749. Achille Castiglioni and 
Pio Manzu 

Parentesi (Parenthesis) lamp, 1971. 
Stainless steel and rubber; 
maximum height: 400 cm; base: 
10 cm diameter. Manufactured by 
Flos S.p.A. Courtesy Flos Inc., 
Huntington Station, N.Y. 

7$o. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Splugen Briiu suspension lamp, i960. 
Polished aluminum, 20 cm high, 
36 cm diameter. Manufactured in 
1962 by Flos S.p.A. Courtesy Flos 
Inc., Huntington Station, NY. 

75/. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Taccia (Notoriety) lamp, 1958. 
Lacquered metal and glass, 
54 cm high, 49.5 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Flos S.p.A. 
Courtesy Flos Inc., Huntington 
Station, N.Y. 

752. Roberto Mango 

String chair, 1952. Metal and PVC 
plastic, refabricated in 1994 by the 
designer (based on original 
prototype), 71 x 75 x 62 cm. 
Collection of the designer. 


Catalogue numbers 724-78 

/;/ some cases, archival photographs havt been used in this 
catalogut to illustratt the design objects in tht exhibition. Most 
oj then photographs dati from tht time of the objects ' first 
production, and depict objects identical to those on view. 
I\ \criptions oj tht specific di sign items in tht exhibition follow. 

753. Franco Albini 

Gnhi armchair, 1950. Rattan and 
wicker, 106 x 90 x 90 cm. 
Manufactured by Vittorio 
Bonacina & C. Lent by the 
manufacturer, Lurago d'Erba. 

754. Franco Albini and 

Franca Helg 

PL 19 armchair, 195-. Metal, roam 
rubber, and fabric, 93.5 x 81.5 x 
76.5 cm. Manufactured by Poggi Snc. 
Lent by the manufacturer, Pavia. 

755. Vittorio Gregotti, 
Lodovico Meneghetti, and 

Giotto Stoppino, 1959. Laminated 
wood and foam rubber, 108 x 62 x 
69 cm. Manufactured by SIM Talea. 
Lent by the manufacturer, Novara. 

7$6. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Scin Litai armchair, i960. Wood, 
foam rubber, and fabric, 96 x 87 x 
100 cm. Manufactured in 1994 by 
Bernini. Lent by the manufacturer, 
Carate Brianza. 

757. Osvaldo Borsani 

P40 reclining chair, [955. Metal and 
rubber; upright: 90 x ~z x Xs cm; 
reclining: 70 x 72 x 150 cm. 
Manufactured by Tecno S.p.A. Lent 
by the manufacturer. 

758. Carlo Mollino 

Arabt \co (Arabi \qut ) table, 1951. 
Wool), glass, and brass, 50 x 124 x 
50 cm. Manufactured by Apelli and 
Varesio. Courtesy of Bruno 
Bischofberger, Zurich. 

759. Gio Pont I 

(../!, [956. Enameled copper, 50 x 
53 x 10 cm. Made by Paolo De Poli. 
Paolo De Poll Collection. Ridua. 

760. Gio Pont 1 

Swan, [956. F.nameled copper, 
2; x u x 10 cm. Made by Paolo De 
Poll Paolo De Poli Collection, Padua. 

761. Gio Ponti 

Devil, 1956. Enameled copper, 15 x 

22 x 9 cm. Made bj Paolo De Poli 
Paolo De Poh Collection, Padua 

762. Enzo Mari 

Ashtray with iron sheath, 1958. 
Glazed iron, 11 x 13 x 10 cm. 
Manufactured by Bruno Danese. 
Courtesy Association Jacqueline 
Vodoz and Bruno Danese, Milan. 

763. Ettore Sottsass. Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti {.Spool I 
series, ca. 1964. Ceramic prototype, 
10.7 cm high, 21.8 cm diameter. 
Collection of Fulvio Ferrari, Turin. 

764. Ettore Sottsass. Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti {Spool I 
series, model 985, ca. 1964. Ceramic, 
18 cm high, 26.- cm diameter. 
Collection of Fulvio Ferrari, Turin. 

76$. Enzo Mari 

Tray with iron sheath, 1958. Glazed 
iron, 8 x 46 x 13 cm. Manufactured 
by Bruno Danese. Courtesy 
Association Jacqueline Vodoz and 
Bruno Danese, Milan. 

766. Ettore Sottsass. Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti {Spout) 
series, model 487, ca. 1964. Ceramic, 
13 cm high, 18.5 cm diameter. 
Collection of Fulvio Ferrari, Turin. 

767. Ettore Sottsass. Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti {Spool > 
series, ca. 1964. Ceramic prototype, 
16. s cm high, 20.2 cm diameter. 
Collection of Fulvio Ferrari, Turin. 

768. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Praxis 48 typewriter. 1964. Plastic . 
metal, and rubber, is.- x 4SS x 
34 cm. Manufactured by Ol vetti, 
S.p.A. Musee des Arts Decoratifs de 
Montreal, gift of Barry Friedman and 
Patricia Pastor. 

769. Roberto Sambonet 

Fish serving dish, 1954; Si. unless 
steel, 7 x 16 x si cm. Nfanufai cured 
In Sambonet. Philadelphia Museum 
ol Art. 

770. Br 7/ no Munari 
Eyeglasses, 19SS Cardboard; open: 
4 x 13.8 x 13 cm. Collection of the 
designer, Milan. 

771. Bruno Munari 

Desk set. [958. Melammc ,\\\C\ 
anodized aluminum. 6.s x 24. s x 6.5 
cm. Manufactured by Bruno Danese. 
Courtesy Association Jacqueline 
Vodoz and Bruno Danese. Milan 

772. Enzo Man 

Java table container, 1 9 (■> i ; Melamme, 
6 cm high, 14 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Bruno Danese 
Courtesy Association Jacqueline 
Vodoz and Bruno Danese. Milan. 

773. Bruno Munari 

Ashtray, 1957. Anodized aluminum, 
8x8x8 cm. Manufactured by Bruno 
Danese. Courtesy Association 
Jacqueline Vodoz and Bruno Danese. 

774. Paolo Gatti. Cesare 
Paolini, and Franco Teodoro 

Sacco {Sack) beanbag chair, 1968. 
Plastic with polystyrene bead filling; 
dimensions variable, approx. 114 cm 
high. 76 cm diameter. Manufactured 
by Zanotta S.p.A. The Museum of 
Modern Art. New York. Gift ol the 
Gimbels Department Store. 

775-. Achille and Pit. r Giacomo 

\L adro {Farmt r) stool, 19s-. 
Chromed steel, enameled metal, and 
wood, si x 50 x 50 c m Manulac tore d 
in [971 by Zanotta S p A The 
Museum nt Modern Art, \e\\ York. 
( ult ol the manulac direr 

776. Jonathan I\ Pas, Donato 

D'Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi, 

andCarla Scolari 

Blou lounge chair, 1967 Transparent 

PV< plastH ,82 \ no x 88 1 m 
Manui.u cured in 1991 1 bj Zanoi ca 
s p A I )onato DI rbinu and Paolo 
Lomazzi, DDL Si udio, Milan 

777 UFO 

(Carlo Bachi, Lap B 

Patrizia Cammeo, Riccardo 

Foresi, andTitti Maschietto) 

Dollar lamp lor the she rwood 

restaurant, I brent c, 191 

( .old plated mi and stum 

so x is cm. Ardm in I FO, Floren 

778. Archizoom 
{Dario Bartolini, Lucia 
Bartolini, Andrea Branzi, 
Gilberto Corretti, Paolo 
Deganello, and Massimo 

Superonda {Superwave) sofa, 191 
Polyurethane and PV( fabric . two 

pieces; 89 X "237.5 x ' 6 tm - 4 X x -'" x 
36 cm. Manufactured by Poltronova 
Musee des Arts Decoratil 

724. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Children's camera, 1964. Plaster 
prototype. 10 x 1$ x 10 cm. 

725. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

RR 126 stereo system. 1966. 
Lacquered wood shell and aluminum: 
closed: 92 x 62 x 36.5 cm; open: 
70 x 140 x }6. 5 cm. Manufactured by 
Brian vega. 


726. Achille and Pier Giacomo 


Spalter vacuum cleaner, i^$6. Plastic 
leather, metal, and felt, }8. 8 x 14.6 x 
IS cm. Manufactured by R.E.M. di 
Rossettt Enrico. 

727. Marco Zanuso and 
Richard Sapper 

Doney 14 portable tela ision, 1962. 
A BS plastic bousing, js x x $0 cm. 
Manufactured by Brionvega. 

728. Marco Zanuso and 
Richard Sapper 

Grillo (Cricket,) folding telephone, 
196$, ABS plastic housing, 7 x 16 x 
8 1 m. Manufat tured by Societd In/liana 
Ti A communication! Sn mt n 1 . 

729. Marcello Nizzoli 

Lettera 22 C Letter 22^ portabh 
typewriter, igso. Enameled natal 
bun \mg. <?. 5 x 29.8 x }2. 4 cm. 
Manufactured by Olivetti. S.p.A. 

730. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. and 
Perry A. King 

Valentine portable typewriter. 1969. 
ABS plastic housing, 10.2 x 34.3 x 
3S<rm. Manufactured by Olivetti. S.p.A. 

731. Mario Bellini 

TCV 250 video display terminal, 1966. 
Body: theet steel and vacuum-cast 
ABS plastit plate; cover: cast-injected 
ABS plastic, vj. >-v y/.rt.v tf.8cm. 
Manufactured by Olivetti, S.p.A. 

732. Gino and Nani Valle, John 733. Rodolfo Bonetto 

Myer, and Michele Provinciali Magic Drum portable radio, 1968. 

Cifra 5 ( Number <,) clock, 1955. Plastic ABS plastic housing, 12 cm high, 

housing, 17 x 27 x 11 cm. Manufactured 10 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

by Solari. Autovox. 

734. Ermenegildo Preti 

Isetta automobile,' ip$2- S3- 132 x 22$ x 
i}4 cm. Manufactured by ho. 

735. Corradino D'Ascanio 

Vespa (Waspj motorscooter, 1946. 
120 x igi x 71 cm. Manufactured by 
Piaggio Veico/i Europe! S.p.A. 

736. Dante Giacosa 

Kuova 500 /TSJew 500,* auton 
1954. Wood prototype 
Reparto modellatori Fiat Mirafiori, 
i^o x 290 x i^o cm. 

737. Battista Pinin Farina 

250 Le Mans automobile, 1001 
Fiberglass model, fabricated b) 
Pininfarina, 23 x 84.$ x 33. j cm. 
Manufactured b) Ferrari. 

738. Battista Pinin Farina 

2so I-c Mans iiiiliiMobiU. wf>>. 
Fiberglass model, fabricated 1 1 
Pininfarina, 23 x 88 x \}.$cm. 
Manufactured l>\ Ferrari. 

739. Battista Pinin Farina 

Cisitalia xoz automobile, 1947. 
Sheet metal model, fai 
Pininfarina, 24 \ r8. : \ m cm. 
Manufactured b) Fiat S.p.A. 


740. Gio Ponti 

Superleggera (Superlight,) two-tone 
chair, 1957. Lacquered wood 
prototype with plastic-covered seat, 
82. $x 40 x 4S cm. 

741. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. ipso — $$. 
Transfer-printed porcelain, 
26 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

743. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. ip;o-ss- 
Transfer-printed porcelain, 
26 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

742. Piero Fornasetti 

Decorated plate, ca. ip$o-sS- 

Transfer-printed porcelain. 

26 cm diameter. Manufactured by 




.»": - ''- ; 

744. Joe Colombo 

Chair, model 4867. 1968. Injected ABS 
plastic. 70 x sox $o cm. Manufactured 
by Kartells. p.. A. 

745. Giandomenico Belotti 
Chair for indoors and outdoors, 1962, 
Glazed steel and FWC, 8}.$x 40 x 
$}.$chi. Manufactured in i9~y by Ainu 
as the Spaghetti chair. 

746. Vico Magistretti 

Selene stacking chair, X969. Fiberglass- 
reinforced plastic, -4. i) x 47 x $o.2 cm. 
Manufactured by Artemidt S.p.A. 

747. Gae Aulenti 

Pipistrello (Bat; table lamp, 1966. 
White opal metbacrylate and stainless 
steel, with lacquered base, 86 cm high, 
$5 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

748. Bruno Munari 

Calza (ScockingJ tubular pendant 
lamp, 1964. Elastic-fabric tubing and 
metal rings, 165 cm high, 40 cm 
diameter. Manufactured by Bruno 

749. Achille Castiglioni and 
Pio Manzu 

Parentesi (Parenthesis,) lamp, 19/1. 
Stainless steel and rubber; maximum 
height: 400 cm; base: 10 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Flos S.p.A. 

750. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Splugen Brau suspension lamp, i960. 
Polished aluminum, 20 cm high. 
}6 cm diameter. Manufactured by 

751. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Taccia (Notoriety,) lamp, ips& 
Lacquered metal and glass, 54 cm high, 
4p.; cm diameter. Manufactured by 
Flos S.p.A. 

752. Roberto Mango 

String chair, 19^2. Meta/ and PVC 
plas, 75x62cm. Manufactured 

(Ian Gould Designs, Inc. 

753. Franco Albini 

Gala, armchair, 19^0. Rattan and 
wicker, 106 x 90 x 90 cm. Manufactured 
by Vittorio Bonacina & C. 

754. Franco Albini and 
Franca Helg 

PL 19 armchair, 1957. Metal, foam 
rubber, and fabric, 93. 5 x 81. <; x 
76.$ cm. Manufactured by Poggi Snc. 

755. Vittorio Gregotti, Lodovico 
Meneghetti, and Giotto Stoppino 

Cavour armchair, 1959. Laminated 
wood and foam rubber, 108 x 62 x 
69 cm. Manufactured by SIM Talea. 

756. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

San Luca armchair, i960. Wood, 
foam rubber, and fabric, 96 x 87 x 
100 cm. Manufactured by Gavina. 

757. Osvaldo Borsani 

P40 reclining chair. w\v Metal 
and rubber: upright: 90 x 72 x 8s cm: 
reclining: 70 x 72 x i$o cm. 

Manufactured by Tecno S.p.A. 

758. Carlo Mollino 

Arabesco (Arabesqui 
1951. Wood, glass, and brass, $0 x 
124 x so cm. Mann fact unci by Apelli 
and Varesio. 

759. Gio Ponti 

Cat, i<)$6. Enameled copper, so x S3 x 
io cm. Made by Paolo De Poll. 

760. Gio Ponti 

Swan, iqs6. Enameled copper, 22 x }ix 

10 cm. Made b) Paolo De Poll. 

761. Gio Ponti 

Devil. i9<j6. Enameled copper, i\\ 22X 
9 cm. Madi b) Paolo De Poli. 

762. Enzo Mari 

Ashtray with iron sheath. ip$8. Glazed 
iron, ii x i} x 10 cm. Manufactured by 
Bruno Danese. 

763. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti (Spool) 
series, ca. 1964. Ceramic prototype. 
10. 7 cm high. 21. 8 cm diameter. 

764. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti (SpooU 
series, model 98s. ca. 1964. Ceramic. 
18 cm high. 26. 7 cm diameter. 

765. Enzo Mari 

Tray with iron sheath. 1958. Glazed 
iron, 8 x 46 x 13 cm. Manufactured by 
Bruno Danese. 

766. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti ("Spool,) 
series, model 487, ca. 1964. Ceramic. 
i$ cm high, 18.5 cm diameter. 

767. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Object from the Rocchetti (Spool J 
series, ca. 1964. Ceramic prototype, 
16. 5 cm high, 20. 2 cm diameter. 

768. Ettore Sottsass, Jr. 

Praxis 48 typewriter, 1964. Plastic, 
metal, and rubber. 15. 7 x 45.5 x 34 cm. 
Manufactured by Olivetti, S.p.A. 

769. Roberto Sambonet 

Fish serving dish, ips4- Stainless steel, 
7 x 16 x 5/ cm. Manufactured by 

770. Bruno Munari 

Eyeglasses, I9SS- Cardboard: open: 
4 x i}. 8 x i} cm. 

77\. Bruno Munari 

Desk set. 19^8. Melamine and anodized 
aluminum. 6.$x 24. s x 6.$ cm. 
Manufactured by Bruno Danese. 

771. Enzo Mari 

Java table container, 1969. Melamine, 
6 1 m high, 14 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Bruno Danese. 

773. Bruno Munari 

Ashtrays, 1957. Anodized aluminum. 
$6x8x8 cm; 8x8x8 cm; 42 x 6 x 
6 cm; 1$ x $ x $ cm; 6x6x6 cm. 
Manufactured by Bruno Danese. 

774. Paolo Gafti, Cesare Paolini, 
and Franco Teodoro 

Sacco (Sack; beanbag chair, 1968. 
Plastic with polystyrene bead filling: 
dimensions variable, approx. 
114 cm high, 76 cm diameter. 
Manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A. 

775. Achille and Pier Giacomo 

Mezzadro ( Farmer ) stool, 1957. 
Chromed steel, enameled metal, and 
u ood, 51 x 50 x $o cm. Manufactured 
in 19 71 by Zanotta S.p.A. 

776. Jonathan De Pas, Donato 
D'Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi, and 
Carla Scolari 

Blow lounge chair, 1967. Transparent 
PVC plastic. 82 x no x 88 cm. 
Manufactured by Zanotta S.p.A. 

777. UFO 

[Carlo Bachi, Lapo Binazzi, 
Patrizia Cammeo, Riccardo 
Foresi, and Titti Maschietto] 

Dollar lamp for the Sheri 
restaurant. Florence. 1968-69. 
Gold-plated metal and stone. 
70 x $o x is cm. 

778. Archizoom 

[Dario Bartolini, Lucia Bartolini, 

Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, 

Paolo Deganello, and Massimo 


Superonda fSuperwave,) sofa, 1967. 

Polynrethane and PVC fabric, two 

pieces; 89 x 237. $ x 36 cm; 48 x 237 x 

36 cm. Manufactured by Poltronova. 


The Political History 
of Italy from the 
Fall of Fascism to the 
Student Revolts 

Giorgio Galli 


period opened with the armistice between Italy and the 
Allies, drafted on September 3, 1943 and announced on 
September 8. It concluded with the Partisan uprising in the 
German-occupied North on April 25, 1945 — the date later 
made the national holiday of the liberation — two weeks in 
advance of the German surrender in Europe on May 8. 

In these final years of the war, Italy experienced three 
conflicts related to the wider international struggle. 
German troops still occupied the country's North, 
although Italy now fought with the Allies against Fascist 
Germany. Throughout the country, clashes occurred 
between Fascist supporters and anti-Fascists. Finally, a 
class conflict evolved, as the Resistance, which was seen as 
the legitimizing foundation of the new democratic system 
through its central axis, the CLN (Comitato di 
Liberazione Nazionale/National Liberation Committee), 
was dominated by the Communists — champions of the 
labor class — while the upper-middle tiers of Italian 
society — which had been tied to the former Fascist 
government — were also seeking political representation. 
The three conflicts had all the bitterness of a civil war. 
Resulting instances of summary justice continued for some 
months after the end of the international conflict. 

The most important political event of this period was 
the dissolution of the monarchy. In the winter of 1943-44, 
the three leftist parties of the CLN — the PCI (Partito 
Comunista Italiana/Italian Communist Party), PSIUP 
(Partito Socialista Italiano di Unita Proletaria/Italian 
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity), and Azionisti 
(Actionist party) — demanded the immediate abdication of 
King Vittorio Emanuele III for his support of the Fascist 
regime. The three moderate parties of the CLN — the DC 
(Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democratic party), PLI 
(Partito Liberale Italiano/Italian Liberal Party), and 
Demolaburisti (Democratic Labor party) — remained 
undecided. The government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio, 
which had been set up by the king after the arrest of 
Mussolini, lacked the support of the major political parties 
and was therefore utterly stripped of authority. 

The political stalemate ended after the arrival of PCI 
leader Palmiro Togliatti from the Soviet Union in March 
1944. Togliatti proposed a compromise, which the CLN 
accepted: the king would delegate his powers to his son, 
Umberto, upon the installation of a government in Rome 
(which was occupied by the Germans and would be 
conquered by the Allies on June 4, 1944). A constituent 
assembly to be elected after the war's end would determine 
the institutional form of the new state. (Although Vittorio 
Emmanuele handed over sovereign control to his son, he 
would not abdicate until May 1946; Umberto would then 
become king.) 

An interim government was formed from the six parties 
of the CLN and led by a pre-Fascist politician, 
Demolaborista Ivanoe Bonomi. In December, the PSIUP 
and Azionisti quit the government, claiming that Bonomi 
was too conservative and partial to the monarchy. 

After the liberation — the event that marked the opening 
of the second period — a new government with 
representatives of all of the parties of the CLN was formed 
and presided over by Azionista Ferruccio Parri, who had 
been the leader of the Resistance in the North. The 

650 Political History 

following three years saw the start of reconstruction, in a 
country half destroyed by the war and beset by social 
conflicts. Tensions were aggravated by economic 
difficulties, which affected the poor above all, and by the 
political aspirations fostered by the PCI and also in part by 
the PSIUP. For these two parties, Soviet experience, 
exemplified by the October Revolution and the victory 
against Adolf Hitler, formed the model for a new social 
order. In December 1945 tensions between Parri and the 
PCI and PSIUP members of his cabinet placed the 
government in crisis. Parri resigned and was replaced by 
the leader of the DC, Alcide De Gasperi, who then formed 
a new six-party coalition cabinet. 

The first general election took place on June 2, 1946. 
Moderates had argued against the constituent assembly's 
determining the institutional form of the new state, and 
instead had called for a referendum, which was held in 
tandem with the election. The referendum affirmed the 
republic over the monarchy by 54 percent of the vote. 
(Following this result, and just one month after he 
assumed the monarchy, Umberto went into exile.) In the 
vote for the constituent assembly, the DC won over 
35 percent, the PSIUP came in second with over 20 percent, 
and the PCI came in a close third with 19 percent. The 
resulting distribution of seats, which fragmented the 
political system while still leaving the three major parties 
with the support of three-fourths of the electorate, would 
be typical of the immediate postwar period. 

Among the minor parties, the PRI (Partito 
Repubblicano Italiano/Italian Republican Party) — which 
had not participated in the CLN governments while the 
monarchy was in place- — won just over 4 percent of the 
vote and joined De Gasperi's new government; and L'Uomo 
Qualunque (Common-Man Movement) won 5 percent of 
the vote, finding the sector that would later support the 
neo-Fascist party MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano/Italian 
Social Movement). 

To heal the wounds of civil war, PCI leader Togliatti, 
now Minister of Justice, declared an amnesty for Fascist 
criminals. Meanwhile, a new confrontation, accentuated by 
the start of the Cold War, divided the government. In 
response to the struggling economy, high inflation, and 
unremitting social conflicts, the DC and PLI demanded an 
economic policy supporting private initiative, while the 
PSIUP and PCI pressed for greater public intervention. 
The differences paralyzed the government and caused a 
split within the PSIUP: a predominantly reformist faction, 
led by Giuseppe Saragat, broke off from the pro- 
Communist majority and founded the PSLI (Partito 
Socialista dei Lavoratori Italiani/Italian Socialist Workers' 
Party); the PSIUP, under the leadership of Pietro Nenni, 
changed its name to PSI (Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian 
Socialist Party). In January 1947 De Gasperi constituted a 
new government, formed around the three "mass" parties 
(the DC, PSIUP, and PCI) but with fewer representatives of 
the Left in the economic ministries. (The PSLI did not join 
the new government.) He maintained that business 
interests — which were expected to revive the economy — 
effectively constituted a "fourth party" that also had to be 
taken into account. Business was represented by the 
Confindustria (Italian Manufacturers' Association) and its 
president, Angelo Costa, a Catholic from Genoa. Pitted 

against the Confindustria was the CGIL (Confederazione 
Generale Italiana del Lavoro/Italian General Confederation 
of Labor), whose leadership was Communist but whose 
members included Socialist, Catholic, Republican, and 
Anarchist workers. 

Two months after the formation of De Gasperi's new 
government, in March, the United States announced the 
Truman Doctrine, a program of economic and military aid 
promulgated to protect Greece and Turkey from 
Communist threat. In May, the Communist party was 
banished from the French government. De Gasperi took 
the same initiative in Italy, forming a new government 
without PCI or PSI members; liberal independent Luigi 
Einaudi, head of the Banca d'ltalia, was named Deputy 
Prime Minister and Budget Minister, bearing the task of 
defining the new economic policies. In July, the Marshall 
Plan was unveiled. Another United States initiative 
designed to contain the growing Soviet influence, like the 
Truman Doctrine before it, the plan aimed to foster 
economic recovery in certain European countries affected 
by the war. The Soviet Union objected and prohibited the 
Eastern European "popular democracies" with Communist 
leadership from participating. In September the 
Cominform (Committee of Information among the 
Communist Parties of Europe) was instituted. At its first 
meeting, Soviet representative Andrej Zdanov criticized 
French and Italian Communists for the passivity with 
which they accepted their exclusion from government. The 
two parties then stirred up some rather spectacular (if 
ineffectual) agitation during the autumn. In one case, a 
group of armed ex-Partisans briefly occupied the prefecture 
building in Milan to prevent the new prefect appointed by 
Minister of the Interior Mario Scelba from taking up office; 
their attempt failed, however. 

The Cominform's campaign against the United States 
and Western European governments — especially against 
the Social-Democratic parties — led to the hardening of 
opposing positions. In January 1948, De Gasperi broadened 
the foundations of his government, taking in PSLI (which, 
in 1951, would become the PSDI [Partito Sociale- 
Democratico Italiano/Italian Social-Democratic Partv}) and 
PRI members. 

On January 1, 1948 the new constitution went into effect. 
The constitution calls for a parliament — elected by- 
universal suffrage — which elects a president for a seven- 
year term. The president appoints a prime minister, who 
forms a government, or cabinet. The government must 
then receive thtfiducia (trust) of parliament; if the trust is 
revoked, the government collapses. The date tor t he- 
Republic's first election was set for April iS, 1948. Durum 
the electoral campaign, which saw the IX and its allies 
opposed by the Fronte Demo< ratico Fopolare (Democratk 
Popular Front, a unity ot the PC] and PSI). Czechoslovakia 
(ell to the Communists in a coup d'etat in Prague. Debate 
in Italy centered on the danger thai a \ i< torj bj the Fronte 
might prevent further Western support and push the 
country toward the Eastern Blot . Tins was a determining 
factor in the election results, whi( h saw the IX w in 
48 percent ot the vote. The Fronte was frozen at u percent 
and the Social-Demot rain slate won 7 percent. ( )v< rail, 
the De Gasperi coalition < ame awaj with more than two 
thirds of the votes 

651 Giorgio Galli 

Tensions remained, however. On July 14, Antonino 
Pallante, a Sicilian student associated with the Right and 
perhaps prompted by the Mafia, seriously wounded 
Togliatti. A general strike from Liguria to Tuscany, called 
by the CGIL in response to the attack, led to quasi- 
insurrectional conditions, which were defused by PCI 
leaders. Their action confirmed that the party had no 
intention of taking power by force; nor did they have the 
consensus to take it by popular vote. Italy was in no danger 
of a Communist takeover, despite what is now the popular 
perception of this period. 

With the events surrounding July 14 the immediate 
postwar period came to an end. The PCI found itself 
stalemated at this point, with its defeat in the elections, 
the revocation of the general strike, and the relinquishing 
of former Partisan arms depots. The Fronte was dissolved. 
Union solidarity was ruptured as a Catholic faction left the 
CGIL to found the LCGIL (Libera Confederazione Generale 
Italiana del Lavoro/Free General Italian Confederation of 
Labor; later called the CISL [Confederazione Italiana 
Sindicati Lavoratori/Italian Confederation of Syndicated 
Laborers}). The following year, Republican and Social- 
Democratic factions also left the CGIL to found the UIL 
(Unione Italiana Lavoratori/Italian Laborers Union). 

The period of economic growth known as the "Italian 
miracle," which began in 1948, was initially slowed by 
conservative spending policies inspired by the DC Budget 
Minister, Giuseppe Pella. (Pella had succeeded Einaudi 
when the latter was elected President of the Republic in 
May 1948.) The policies were criticized by representatives of 
the Marshall Plan in Italy. 

Strong social imbalances persisted and in the early 1950s 
would create a new space for the Left — the alliance of the 
PCI and PSI — and also for an opposition of the Right, 
made up of the MSI and PNM (Partito Nazionale 
Monarchico/National Monarchist Party). (The Right was 
particularly strong in the South; shipowner Achille Lauro, 
leader of the PNM, became Mayor of Naples in 1952.) 

In this state of affairs, De Gasperi's Center (made up of 
the DC, PSDI, PRI, and PLI) attempted to maintain a 
consensus by proposing a majority-system electoral law, 
based on the French model, whereby the coalition of 
parties winning at least 50 percent plus one of the votes 
would be assigned 65 percent of the seats. The bill was 
passed in March 1953. The Center thus confronted the 
coalitions of the Left and Right on these terms during the 
election of June 7, 1953, but were defeated by a slim 
margin. They gained 49.3 percent of the vote (the DC fell 
to 40 percent); the parties of the Left stood at 37 percent; 
and those of the Right won 13 percent. The old electoral 
law, a revised proportional system, remained in effect, 
guaranteeing the centrist coalition a slight majority. 

The three other parties of the Center coalition refused to 
join De Gasperi's new government, however, and he was 
forced to form a government with only DC members. 
When this cabinet was refused, De Gasperi resigned in 
August 1953. After a period of uncertainty, during the 
caretaker government of Giuseppe Pella, the Center re- 
formed at the start of 1954 and stayed in place through 
successive governments led by Christian Democrats Scelba, 
Antonio Segni, and Adone Zoli. Following the death of 

652 Political History 

De Gasperi, in August 1954, leadership of the DC was 
assumed by its Secretary, Amintore Fanfani. In April 1955, 
at the end of Einaudi's term as president, the former 
speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Giovanni Gronchi, of 
the DC, was elected in his place. 

It was therefore with a dominance of the DC in the 
legislature that the economy began to grow. A determining 
role was played by private enterprise, especially the largest 
companies such as Fiat (automobiles), Montecatini 
(chemicals), Edison (electricity), and Pirelli (rubber). 
Public intervention also played a role, especially in the case 
of ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi/National Hydrocarbon 
Company). ENI, headed by Enrico Mattei, a former 
commander of the DC Partisans during the war, gained a 
monopoly over the extraction of methane in the Po Valley, 
and sought to obtain another, over the management of 
Italian oil policy, in competition with international cartels. 
Mattei s goal was to guarantee Italy the greatest possible 
autonomy in energy provision, and to achieve this he had 
to finance the DC, as well as other parties to a lesser 
extent. He had the support of president Gronchi and DC 
secretary Fanfani, both of whom favored expanding 
government intervention in the economy, as well as that of 
the Budget Minister, Ezio Vanoni. 

The hegemony of the DC in the overall political system 
was also strengthened during this period by a crisis that 
beset the PCI. By 1955, the CGIL was losing its majority 
status in the most important companies, including Fiat. 
Nikita Kruschev's 1956 report on the crimes of Joseph 
Stalin, as well as the rebellions in Poland and Hungary (the 
latter put down forcibly by Soviet troops), prompted some 
200,000 members to quit the Communist party in Italy; 
membership dropped from 2 million to 1.8 million over a 
two-year period between 1956 and 1958. 

In response to the crisis suffered by the PCI, a faction 
within the PSI under the guidance of party leader Nenni, a 
former champion of the Communist line, sought autonomy 
from the Communist party. As this alliance was still 
considered valid by a large segment of the Socialists, the 
PSI underwent a great internal struggle, which would 
eventually see Nenni emerge victorious at the party 
congress in January 1959. 

With the passing of Pope Pius XII after a long 
pontificate begun in 1939, and the subsequent election of 
John XXIII, a new phase in the history of Catholicism was 
begun. At the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65, broad 
scope would be given to ecclesiastical reforms — such as 
changes in the Liturgy of the Mass — that would take on 
great symbolic value. This situation influenced Italian 
political life as well, especially the ongoing struggle within 
the DC over economic policy. One faction, led by Fanfani, 
favored intense public intervention in the economy; the 
other, led by Giulio Andreotti and former followers of 
Party Secretary Fanfani (called the "dorotei," or 
"Dorotheans," because they defined their position at a 
meeting at the convent of Saint Dorothy), refused to 
compromise relations between the DC and major business 
groups. The debate within the DC reflected the debate over 
reform in the Catholic world. A polarization resulted, with 
progressives, favoring government intervention in the 
economy as well as reform in the church, pitted against 
conservatives, who opposed both positions. 

Elections were held again in 1958, with the DC winning 
42 percent of the vote. The PCI won 22 percent; and the 
PSI progressed slightly, with over 14 percent. The coalition 
of the Right suffered from the split of the PNM (now 
headed by Alfredo Covelli), with Achille Lauro leaving to 
form his own party, PMP (Partito Monarchies 
Popolare/Popular Monarchist Party). After the elections, 
Fanfani retained the position of Secretary of the DC and 
became Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as part of a 
centrist coalition. The PL1 felt increasingly uneasy within 
the coalition because of their opposition to any limitation 
of private initiative. The majority was a weak one, in any 
case; the Fanfani government was placed in the minority in 
Parliament several times during winter 1958-59, when a 
faction of the DC (called "snipers") voted against him in 
secret ballot on a number of legislative measures. 

Nenni's victory at the PSI congress served to strengthen 
Fanfani and his allies' position within the DC. They had 
been considering replacing the PLI coalition with an 
alliance with the PSI (a Center-Left coalition), which 
would give the DC the twofold advantage of weakening the 
Left (which, when united, had 37 percent of the vote) and 
having a broader majority supporting public intervention 
in the economy. After the attempt to rebuild a majority 
with the PLI had proven to be difficult (and, even if 
successful, would have yielded a very weak majority) and 
because the lingering conflicts within the party and the 
resultant political uncertainties were creating an 
atmosphere of great tension in the country as a whole, the 
potential advantage for the party — which stood to increase 
the number of positions at its disposal in government-run 
businesses — ended up convincing the Dorotheans to 
accept this strategy. 

Wearied by the opposition he had faced from within his 
party, however, Fanfani resigned from all posts in February 
1959. Aldo Moro succeeded him as DC Secretary, and the 
new Prime Minister was Antonio Segni. While the struggle- 
within the DC did not abate until after the party congress 
in October 1959, Segni found the support of the Center. 

The turning point of this period, and its close, would be 
defined, as in July 1948, by clashes in the streets. Yet the 
result would be the opposite this time: in 1948, the Left 
had suffered from the protests; twelve years later, in i960, 
it would gain from them. 

The political situation collapsed in February i960, when 
the PLI withdrew its support for the Segni government. A 
long crisis began, resolved only by the formation ot a 
single-party DC cabinet. The government, headed by 
Fernando Tambroni — a former ally ot Fanfani who had the 
support of President Gronchi — no longer enjoyed (he- 
support of the PLI or PSI, and won a vote of confidence- due- 
only to the decisive vote of the far-right MSI. Some ot its 
ministers subsequently quit the government and .1 new 
crisis set in, without any visible solution. ( !ron< hi endorsed 
the Tambroni government, which pledged to resign in 
October following the approval of its budget, to give tin 
party time to decide on us detimt ive poli< ies. 

At a moment ot renewed tension provoked 
by Soviet successes in space and missile- technolo 
Tambroni presented himselt .is a bulwark against tin 
Communist threat and the potential champion ot a ( enter 
Right coalition that might include the MSI. At its part] 

r-s; Giorgio Galli 

congress scheduled for June in Genoa, the MSI indicated 
that it might abandon its neo-Fascist agenda and 
reconstitute itself as an aggregation of the moderate Right. 
This very congress, however, became the spark that set 
tensions afire. The Left ordered demonstrations that were 
joined by certain sectors of the DC hostile to the Tambroni 
plan. As in July 1948, the Genoa police force was 
overwhelmed during clashes in the streets. To avoid the 
same situation in the city of Reggio Emilia, the police 
there fired on the crowd, which resulted in the deaths of 
five demonstrators. Other clashes took place in Rome and 
Sicily, with further fatalities and injuries. 

The President of the Senate, Cesare Merzagora, a 
businessman of moderate politics elected into the DC, 
proposed a truce that would involve the replacement of the 
Tambroni government. Discouraged, Tambroni resigned, 
and a new government was then formed by Fanfani. The 
single-party DC government, supported by the four parties 
of the old Center, enjoyed a majority, which was 
maintained through what Moro would term "parallel 
convergences": the opposition of the MSI on the Right was 
offset by that of the PCI on the Left, with similarly parallel 
abstentions by the PSI and PNM. (The parallelism was 
only temporary, however. The PNM, which had 4 percent 
of the vote, was on the path to extinction — ten years later 
it would be absorbed into the MSI, which would expand 
its acronym by adding the letters DN, for Destra Nazionale 
[National Right]. The PSI, on the other hand, would be 
the DCs future ally.) 

The formation of the new Center-Left coalition, with the 
PSI taking the place of the PLI in the coalition with the 
DC, marked the beginning of the final period. The 
formation process was troubled. Throughout 1961 a 
stalemate held sway. At the DC party congress in Naples in 
February 1962, however, a consensus was reached. A broad 
majority, extending as far as Andreotti, formed around the 
position of Moro and Fanfani in favor of allying with the 
PSI; the opposition, led by Scelba and future President 
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, took only 20 percent of the vote. 

A new government came into office in March 1962. 
Headed again by Fanfani, it included members of the PSDI 
and PRI and rested on an agreed-upon abstention by the 
PSI. Its program included three main points: the 
nationalization of the electric industry; the institution of a 
single middle school; and the establishment of regions of 
ordinary status — that is, with less autonomy. (The regions 
of ordinary status had been called for in the 1948 
constitution but were never instituted, unlike the regions 
of special status: Sicily, Sardinia, Valle d'Aosta, Trentino- 
Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.) 

The plans for the nationalization of the electric industry 
conformed to the DCs stated direction of government 
intervention in the economy, which the PSI saw as a step 
toward state planning. The program for a single middle 
school, an initiative that would end the division of junior- 
high-school-age students between grammar schools of 
classical-humanist studies and schools of vocational 
training, was for children up to fourteen years of age and 
corresponded to a law that made school obligatory up to 
that age. Entailing severe limitation of the study of Latin 
(which was also penalized in the new Church liturgy), the 

654 Political History 


program aroused the opposition of traditional Catholics, 
while the PSI welcomed the reform as part of a process of 

After the Gronchi mandate expired in May 1962, the 
DC — with the votes of the Center-Right — managed to 
bring former Prime Minister Segni to the presidency, a 
move designed to satisfy moderate Catholics hostile to 
their programs. The last phase of the legislature was 
characterized by Moro's politics of delicate balances. The 
nationalization of the electric industry and the institution 
of a single middle school were passed into law, but the DC 
postponed establishing the regions of ordinary status. 
Elections were set for April 1963. The PSI revoked its 
abstention, and the future fate of the Center-Left coalition 
was left up to the voters. 

The election results were disappointing for the majority. 
The DC went from 42 percent of the vote in 1958 to 
38 percent, to the benefit of the PLI, which doubled its 
vote, from 3.5 percent to 7 percent. The PSDI gained, 
going from 4.6 percent to 6 percent, and the PRI remained 
stable at slightly more than 1 percent. The PSI fell to less 
than 14 percent of the vote; the PCI exceeded 25 percent; 
and the Right declined. 

On paper, a Center-Left coalition that included the PSI 
would have enjoyed a broad majority, close to 60 percent. 
But following their electoral failure, the DC were divided 
and feared further defections to the PLI on the part of 
moderates in its electorate. In the PSI, the struggle 
between autonomists and pro-Communists continued. 
Negotiations to form the new government remained 
blocked by conflicts, particularly those regarding 
legislation on urban development that would allow greater 
localization of political processes, especially in the 
overcrowded metropolitan areas. (The absence of these 
measures would be at the center of the conflicts of 1968 and 
thereafter.) An initial agreement was rejected by the PSI, 
with some of Nenni's followers voting with the left wing of 
the party. Thus, while waiting for the PSI to clarify its 
position at a congress set for October, a single-party DC 
government was formed, headed by the Speaker of the 
Chamber of Deputies, Giovanni Leone. 

At the October congress, Nenni wrested a majority in 
favor of an accord with the DC. The PSI's left wing 
planned a split, however, which it would carry out in 
early 1964, forming a new party that adopted the old 
name PSIUP (Partito Socialista Italiano di Unita 
Proletaria/Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity). The 
negotiations for a new Center-Left government presided 
over by Moro — with Nenni as Deputy Prime Minister and 
representatives of the PSDI, PRI, and PSI among its 
members — were concluded in late November 1963, in an 
emotional atmosphere created by the assassination of 
John F. Kennedy, whose administration had encouraged the 
Center-Left's experiments. While the PSI was splitting, 
discontent within the DC was also great. Scelba wanted a 
vote of no-confidence to be cast, but was dissuaded by a 
call for party unity by the Vatican. 

The government took power at a moment of economic 
difficulty. Productivity was down, and the resources 
available for reforms to such areas as urban development, 
high schools, and universities had to be reduced to stem 
the rising inflation. (The reforms would never take place, 

and this would be at the source of tensions in 1968.) By 
June 1964 the executive branch was in crisis. The DC and 
PSI were fighting over public financing of private (mostly 
Catholic) schools. Moro resigned as Prime Minister. The 
crisis dragged on, giving rise to rumors of a coup d'etat 
being planned by General Giovanni De Lorenzo, 
commander of the Carabinieri (police) forces, and 
supported by President Segni. 

The crisis was finally resolved by the formation of a new 
government by Moro, who then postponed reforms, though 
he presented an economic program (which would never be 
implemented) that he entrusted to the Socialist minister 
Giovanni Pieraccini. With President Segni paralyzed by a 
stroke, political activity was slowed down during the 
summer. In August, Togliatti died in the Soviet Union. 
(After resigning in December, Segni would soon die also.) 

At year's end, the election of PSDI leader Saragat to the 
presidency seemed to augur new impetus for the Center- 
Left, although this was not the case. The moderate sectors 
of the DC blocked reforms, fearing they would lose 
conservative votes. The whole party did agree, however, on 
the issue of expanding government intervention, which 
would create a widespread state economy with proceeds for 
enacting reforms that would be sufficient to satisfy even 
the Socialists. By early 1966 the government was again in 
crisis over questions of schooling, this time over the 
maintenance by religious organizations of nursery schools, a 
problem obviously secondary to others taking shape. 

The Moro government, in the process of being 
reinstituted, took all year in 1967 to draft a law for the 
reform of universities. This would prove to be the fuse that 
would ignite the student protests. The rebellion had deeper 
roots, of course. Internationally, the 1966 Cultural 
Revolution in China had a great influence on the Italian 
Left, as did the Vietnam War, which induced the students 
to identify with General Nguyen Giap and proclaim, "The 
university will be our Vietnam." On the domestic front, 
the university had become open to the masses, but the 
services were woefully inadequate; the metropolitan areas 
were overcrowded and also suffered from a lack of services; 
and workers were demanding higher wages, after the 
sacrifices made during the economy's downturn and its 
subsequent recovery. 

Nineteen sixty-eight was therefore the year of 
contestazione, which began in the schools with continuous 
demonstrations, occupations, and clashes with police, ami 
spread into the factories. In this atmosphere of conflict, the 
Center-Left coalition achieved what appeared to be 
satisfactory results in the April election. About ss percent 
of the vote was shared between the DC (over }8 pen ent >. 
the Socialist party, now a union of the PSI and PSDI (over 
14 percent), and the PRI (over 2 percent). 

Yet the success of the PCI, which grew to 27 percent ami 
together with the PSIUP led a strong leftist opposition 
with 30 percent of the vote, indicated that then existed a 
situation of social tension that extended well beyond the 
election results. Once again, as in h).}S and [960, tin- 
transition from one period to the next was t hara< terized In 
the moving of the political process out of institution offices 
and into the streets. 

Translated, fromthi Italian, l>\ Stephen Sartarelli. 

6s<> Giorgio Galli 


Lisa Panzera 


The political situation forces Renato Guttuso to leave 
Rome. The previous year his painting La crocifissione (The 
Crucifixion) won second prize at the IV Premio Bergamo, and 
its implicit criticism of the Fascist government sparked an 
intensely negative reaction from both the Fascist regime 
and the Catholic church. In the newspaper Losservatore 
romano, Celso Costantini expressed his outrage at Guttuso's 
work, claiming it to be an affront to the Catholic faith. 

Artist Fausto Melotti returns to Milan from Rome (where 
he moved in 1941) to discover that his studio and his work 
there were destroyed during the war. 

The Corrente artists' group writes the Manifesto di pittori e 
scultori (Manifesto of painters and sculptors) in Milan in 
the last weeks of 1942 and the first weeks of 1943. The 
manifesto, which is not published, proclaims an abstracted 
realism and calls for a painting that assumes a 
revolutionary function. Pablo Picasso's work serves as the 
group's primary model; his painting Guernica (1937) is its 
emblematic work. Corrente had founded a journal, edited 
by Ernesto Treccani, that was published in Milan between 
January 1938 and May 1940; first called Vita giovanile 
(Youth), then Corrente di vita giovanile (The current of 
youth), it finally became Corrente (Current). On June 10, 

1940, the review was suppressed by the Fascist regime, yet 
Corrente continued to publish books and opened a gallery. 
The group brought together many important artists, 
intellectuals, poets, critics, and filmmakers, who often held 
differing points of view. Members included Sandro Bini, 
Renato Birolli, Bruno Cassinari, Dino Del Bo, Giansiro 
Ferrata, Guttuso, Alberto Lattuada, Giuseppe Marchiori, 
Giuseppe Migneco, Ennio Morlotti, Duilio Morosini, Luigi 
Rognoni, Aligi Sassu, Vittorio Sereni, Treccani, Italo 
Valenti, and Emilio Vedova. 

Stile (Style), a design review founded in Milan in 1941, 
continues publication (until 1947) under the direction of 
editor and founder Gio Ponti. 

The Gruppo Editoriale Domus, publishers of Domus, an 
architecture and design magazine founded in Milan in 1928 
by Ponti, prints a yearbook on Italian photography, 
Fotografia: prima rassegna dell'attivita fotografica in Italia 
(Photography: first survey of photographic activity in Italy), 
which would become an important source on the history of 
Italian photography. Ponti would be editor of Domus until 

1941, and then again from 1948 until his death in 1979. 

Jean-Paul Sartre's treatise on existentialism L'Etre et le neant 
(published in English as Being and Nothingness) is 
published. Sartre, who promotes a sociopolitically 
committed art, would become very influential in Italy. In 
October 1945, he would found the journal Les Temps 
modernes (Modern times) in Paris. 

Cinecitta, a vast filmmaking complex opened by Benito 
Mussolini in 1937, had by this time produced nearly 300 
feature films, eighty-five shorts, and 248 dubbed versions of 
foreign films. 

656 Chronology 

Controversy surrounding Luchino Visconfi's first feature 
film Ossesstone (Obsession; released in English as Ossessione) 
continues. Released in 1942, the film was not well received 
by Italian government officials and censors, although it 
would later come to be highly influential in the 
development of Italian neorealist cinema. (An unauthorized 
interpretation of James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always 
Rings Twice, the film would not be permitted to be shown 
in the United States until 1975.) 

Michelangelo Antonioni directs his first him, the short 
documentary Gente del Po (The people of the Po). 

Giovanna, Micol, and Zoe Fontana open their first fashion 
atelier, Sorelle Fontana [Fontana Sisters], in Rome. 
Catering primarily to the Roman nobility and film stars 
including Audrey Hepburn, Myrna Loy, and Elizabeth 
Taylor, they would become best known for their evening 
gowns and costume designs, such as Linda Christian's 
wedding dress for her marriage to Tyrone Power in 1948 and 
Ava Gardner's wardrobe for Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1954 
film The Barefoot Contessa. In i960 they would create a pret- 
a-porter line for the American market. 

The furrier Jole Veneziani establishes a dressmaking 
division (which would become haute couture in 1946 and 
close in 1969). In 1952 she would be featured on the cover of 
Life and in American fashion shows. From 1951 to 1957 she 
would produce a boutique line, Veneziani Sport, and in 1957 
launch her own perfume. 


A wave of industrial strikes sweeps Turin and Milan, 
sparked by the severe privations caused by the war effort. 


-July. The IV Quadriennale d'Arte Nazionale (Fourth 
quadrennial of national art) is held at the Palazzo delle 
Esposizioni in Rome. A large number of artists exhibit, 
including Afro [Afro Basaldella], Giuseppe Capogrossi, 
Giorgio de Chirico, Filippo De Pisis, Guttuso, Enrico 
Prampolini, Giulio Turcato, and Vedova. 

8—10. The conflict in North Africa comes to an end when 
Allied forces expel Axis troops. 


p — 10. The Allied invasion of Italy begins; forces land in 


19. Allied forces bomb Rome. 

24- 25. The Grand Council meets and votes to remove 
Mussolini. King Vittorio Emanuele III dismisses him from 
office and has him arrested. The Fascist dictatorship is 
replaced by a military one, and Marshal Pietro Badoglio is 
named head of the government, serving as Prime Minister 
under the monarch. 

Renato Guttuso .it /' 1 . ?//<?. 


Plasti ■ artu orks m ./prop room 

oj Cinecitia in jvu. AP \\ idt U 

Ava Gardner, with tht assistant 
W/'i "/ Fontana, tin < on a ["he 

Ban fool ( ontessa, in ti ■ dner 

wean twenty-six %ou m </'. 
Fontana. APIWic W . P 

28. Badoglio orders the dissolution of the Fascist party. (To 
the present day, it remains illegal for the Fascist party to be 
part of the governing body of Italy.) 

657 /./'./ 1'./' 

/\ /V'/ii- 0/ //rf/i /// Roaz« that were 
damaged during an Allied bombing 
raid in 1943. AP/Widt World Photos. - 

While shipmaU 1 unload gear, an 

■ !, innurst wades ashore at Naples 
in rp43, AP Widi WorldPhotos. 

Tht abb i at Wonti Cassino after its 
capture b) Allied troops in 1944. 
AP Wid, WorldPhotos. 


Alberto Burri is taken prisoner while serving as a doctor in 
the Italian army in North Africa. After eighteen months he 
would be moved to a prisoner-of-war camp in Hereford, 
Texas, where he would begin to paint; his earliest works 
would be executed on sugar sacks. 

j. An armistice between the Badoglio regime and the Allies 
is reached, at Cassibile, and is announced by Badoglio on 
September 8. Badoglio, his ministers, and the king flee 
Rome — which is still occupied by German forces — for the 
South, leaving the army without guidance. This marks the 
beginning of the armed Resistance in the German- 
occupied North. The Partisans consist of two groups: those 
from disbanded units of the Italian army (and supportive of 
the royal government in the South) and those from the 
CLN (Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale/National 
Liberation Committee). The CLN is a reformist group 
representing the five anti-Fascist parties: PCI (Partito 
Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party); PSIUP 
(Partito Sociahsta Italiano di Unita Proletaria/Italian 
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity); Azionisti (Action 
party); DC (Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democratic 
party); and PLI (Partito Liberale Italiano/Italian Liberal 
Party). Despite the profound political differences among 
the groups, the CLN is held together until the end of the 
war, primarily by PCI leader Palmiro Togliatti and Alcide 
De Gasperi of the DC. 

12—13. Mussolini is rescued from prison in the Abruzzi 
mountains by the Germans. Taken briefly to Germany, he 
is soon returned to Italy to head the puppet republic of 
Salo in the North. 


1. Allied forces enter Naples. The city is in ruins due to 

German bombing. 


25. The Italian Social Republic of Salo is officially 
proclaimed. Located on Lago di Garda in northern Italy, 
this is Mussolini's final Fascist regime. The Republic would 
fall to Allied and Partisan forces in April 1945. 

28— December 1. The Tehran Conference takes place. 
Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph 
Stalin meet to discuss the Allied offensive against Nazi 
Germany and the future partition of Europe. 


The Fascist regime in Italy temporarily stops publication of 
the architecture and design magazine Costruzioni casabella 
(House beautiful constructions). It would resume 
publication briefly between March and December 1946, but 
would resume continuous publication only in 1953. (The 
magazine, first published in Milan in 1928, changed its 
name several times over the years: from La casa bella to 
Casabella, Casabella costruzioni, Costruzioni casabella, 
Casabella continuita, and finally to Casabella once more.) 

658 Chronology 


The death penalty is abolished in Italy. 

RAI (Radio Audizione Italia), the Italian state tadio, is 
established. In 1954 RAI would become known as 
Radiotelevisione Italiana. 

// triste minotauro (The unhappy minotaur), a collection of 
poems by artist Fausto Melotti, is published in Milan. 


22. Allied troops land in Anzio (the province of Rome). 


The USSR recognizes the Badoglio government in Italy. 

23-24. Members of GAP (Gruppi di Azione Patriottica/ 
Patriotic Action Group), a segment of the armed 
Resistance, attack a group of German soldiers on via 
Rasella, Rome. In retaliation, the following day the 
German army massacres 385 Italians in caves outside Rome 
on via Ardeatina, then seal the bodies inside the caves by 
exploding mines. After Rome is liberated in June, the caves 
are opened and the bodies identified. A competition for a 
monument on the site is initiated and the resulting design 
is a collaboration between two groups: Nello Aprile, Cino 
Calcaprina, Aldo Cardelli, Mario Fiorentino, and Giuseppe 
Perugini, with sculptors Mirko [Mirko Basaldella] and 
Francesco Coccia. The monument to the Ardeatine caves 
massacre would be completed in 1947. 


22. The Badoglio cabinet resigns, and is immediately 


German troops evacuate Monte Cassino after four months 
of fighting with Allied forces. The battle — among the 
most difficult fought in Italy — was one of the heaviest 
artillery and aerial bombardments of the war and had 
resulted in the deaths of 3,000 Italian civilians. 


Prince Umberto II becomes Lieutenant-General of the 

Kingdom of Italy, assuming much of his father's authority. 

4. Allied troops take Rome. 

6. Allied troops land in Normandy. 

18. Badoglio is forced to resign and Ivanoe Bonomi, of the 
PSIUP (Partito Socialista Italiano di Unita 
Proletaria/Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity), 
becomes Prime Minister. A new opposition cabinet is 
formed under PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian 
Communist Party) leader Palmiro Togliatti. 


Allied forces liberate Florence and Paris. 


Esposizione d'arte contemporanea (Exhibition of contemporary 

art) is held at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, 
Rome. Participants include Afro [Afro Basaldella], Carlo 
Carra, Felice Casorati, Giorgio de Chirico, Filippo De Pisis, 
Renato Guttuso, Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi], Mario 
Mafai, Giacomo Manzu, Mirko, Giorgio Morandi, Medardo 
Rosso, and Toti Scialoja. Palma Buccarelli writes the 
catalogue text. 


British and American troops liberate Buchenwald, Dachau, 
and Belsen, three of the most notorious Nazi concentration 

The unemployed in Italy number more than 2 million. 

Bruno Zevi's Verso un'architettura organica (published in 
English as Towards an Organic Architecture) is published 
after his return to Italy from political exile in the United 
States. Zevi, having become familiar with Frank Lloyd 
Wright's publication An Organic Architecture: The 
Architecture of Democracy (1939) and architectural work 
during his stay in the United States, becomes a staunch 
promoter of Organic architecture and a central figure in 
Italian architecture. In opposition to the Rationalists, the 
Organic architecture movement favors organic rather than 
geometric forms and a freer approach to design. 

Architect Giovanni Michelucci founds La nuova cittd (The 
new city), a journal primarily addressing reconstruction, in 
Florence. In 1948 Michelucci would move to Bologna, where 
he would teach in the Faculty of Engineering at the 
Politecnico di Bologna and continue publication of the 
journal. La nuova cittd would appear at irregular intervals 
until 1954; in 1950 its name would change to Panorami della 
nuova cittd (Panoramas of the new city), although it would 
once again become La nuova cittd in 1952. 

Cesare Pavese, one of the most influential writers of the 
period and known for his numerous translations of 
American fiction (among them Herman Melville's Moby- 
Dick), becomes editorial director of the publishing house 
Einaudi in Turin. He also joins the PCI (Partito Comunista 
Italiano/Italian Communist Party). 

The first of the six volumes of Antonio Gramsci's Quaderni 
del carcere (published in English as The Prison Notebooks) is 
published. (The final volume would be published in 194S.) 
Gramsci's ideas would become central to PCI policy under 
Palmiro Togliatti. 

Carlo Levi's novel Cmt<> si t fermato j Eboli (published in 
English as Christ Stoppedat Eboli) is published, tit would be 
made into a him by Francesco Rosi in 1979.) 

Elio Vittorini's novel about the Resistance in Milan toward 
the end ol World War II, / 'omini c n<> (Men and not nun*, is 

Roberto Rossellini's Roma cittd aperta (Rome open city; 
released m English as Open City) becomes an unexpected 
box-office hit. (Most neorealist dims are not will attended I 

659 /./>./ Pan 

Left to right: tht bod'm oj tin former 
.Sn retar) oj t party, Achilh 

Starace, Benito Mussolini, and his 
mistress, Claretta Petacci, hang publicly 
in Milan after the) wen executednear 
city in 1945. AP Widt World Photos. 

Germana Marucelli reopens her atelier in Milan. (First 
opened in 1938, it was closed in 1940 due to the war.) She is 
known for her unusual work with fabric, particularly with 
appliques and elaborate embroidery, as in the dress she 
would create in 1949 for Eva Peron. Her fashion shows, 
which become gala social events, are attended by many 
artists and writers, including Getulio Alviani, Massimo 
Campigli, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Felice Casorati, Lucio 
Fontana, Gio Ponti, Alberto Savinio, Paolo Scheggi, and 
Piero Zuffi. 

MSA (Movimento di Studi per l'Architettura/Movement of 
Studies for Architecture) is founded in Milan to insure a 
unified plan for reconstruction. The group, which promotes 
Rationalist architecture, includes well-established 
architects and firms — including BBPR (Belgiojoso, 
Peressutti, Rogers) — as well as younger architects, such as 
Giancarlo De Carlo and Marco Zanuso. Formally 
conceived in 1926 by Gruppo 7, a group of young architects 
that included Luigi Figini, Gino Pollini, and Giuseppe 
Terragni, Rationalism was the dominant architectural style 
under Fascism. 


20 -February 4. Libera Associazione Arti Figurative holds 
an exhibition at Galleria San Marco, Rome. Participants 
include Carlo Aymonino, Capogrossi, Ettore Colla, Renato 
Guttuso, Leoncillo [Leoncillo Leonardi], Carlo Levi, Mario 
Mafai, Concetto Maugeri, Salvatore Scarpitta, Toti Scialoja, 
and Giulio Turcato. The catalogue text is written by 
Associazione president Gino Severini. 


4— 11. The Yalta Conference takes place: Roosevelt, 
Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet in Crimea to 
plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany and 
the configuration of Europe after the war. 

19. Ezra Pound, an American pro-Fascist poet who is 
wanted for treason in the United States, is seized by 
American forces in Genoa. 


22. Architect Giuseppe Pagano, editor of Casabella until 
the journal was closed in 1943, dies in the Mathausen 
concentration camp. Pagano had been arrested and 
transferred to Germany due to his involvement with the 

25. Allied forces liberate Venice and Milan. 

28. Benito Mussolini, after entering into negotiations with 
the Partisans to surrender himself, flees from Rome with 
his mistress, Claretta Petacci. They are captured and 
executed by a Partisan squad in Giulino di Mezzegra and 
their bodies hung upside-down in the Piazzale Loreto in 
Milan in an act of public humiliation. Mussolini's wife, 
Rachele, who was promoted by Fascist propaganda as the 
model wife and mother, would try to escape to Switzerland, 
but would be captured and interned for several months; 
she would return to her hometown of Forli following her 

660 Chronology 

jo. Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Berlin. 


2. One million German troops surrender in Italy and 

7. In Rheims, Germany signs unconditional surrender to 
Allied forces throughout Europe. The surrender is ratified 
in Berlin on May 8. 


21. Ferruccio Parri, of the Azionisti (Action Party), is 
named Prime Minister. He would remain in power through 
December 10. 


Italy declares war on Japan. 

15. Zevi and a group of young architects found APAO 
(Associazione per l'Architettura Organica/ Association for 
Organic Architecture) in Rome. 

26. The Potsdam Conference takes place: Clement Attlee, 
Stalin, and Harry S Truman meet. Tensions between the 
USSR and Western Allies become clear. 


The first issue of Metron, under the editorship of Luigi 
Piccinato, Silvio Radiconcini, and Zevi, is published in 
Rome. Addressing popular housing and reconstruction, its 
writers criticize much of the reconstruction effort and 
point to the lack of intelligent planning, caused primarily 
by ideological conflicts between various planning groups. 
Metron would cease publication in 1954. 

14. Japan surrenders to Allied forces. 


Renato Birolli founds the Nuova Secessione Artistica 
Italiana in Venice. Its manifesto would be written in 
October 1946 and signed by Birolli, Bruno Cassinari, 
Guttuso, Leoncillo, Levi, Ennio Morlotti, Armando 
Pizzinato, Giuseppe Santomaso, Turcato, Emilio Vedova, 
and Alberto Viani. 

The first issue of Vittorini's journal 11 politecnico 
(Polytechnic) is published in Milan. Vittorini, whose 
landmark novel Conversazione in Si cilia (Conversation in 
Sicily; published in English as In Sicily) was published in 
1941, envisages the journal as a platform lor discussing the 
role of the intellectual in postwar society. He argues that 
political ideology should not dictate culture, leading him 
to a debate in the press with Palmiro Togliatti, head of the 
PCI. Photography is a central component of the journal, 
which would be published through April 1946 as a weekly, 
and from May 1946 to December 1947 as a monthly. 

The city of Milan holds a competition for reconstruction 
proposals, during which the AR (Architetti Riuniti) plan is 
presented. A plan lor the city of Milan, AR was designed 
by a team of architects (Franco Albini, Lodovico 
Belgiojoso, Piero Bottoni, Ezio Cerutti, Ignazio Gardella, 

Gabriele Mucchi, Giancarlo Palanti, Enrico Peressutti, 
Mario Pucci, Aldo Putelli, and Ernesto Nathan Rogers) in 
1944. It contains several major elements, most oi which 
would never be constructed — including a canal, lined with 
modern workers' housing, that would link Locarno. 
Switzerland, with Venice for the export of Italian goods to 
the rest of southern Europe; a new commercial center in 
the area of Milan known as Fiera Sempione, whk h would 
allow the historic area of the city to become a residential 
zone, thus minimizing traffic and allowing for the 
restoration and protection of historic structures; and the re- 
creation of an airport, subway system, parks, and sports 
centers in Milan. The scheme would be published in 1946 
in Costruzioni casabella (House beautiful constructions). 
Approximately half of Milan's housing was destroyed by 
bombing during the war and the city is the site of much 
experimentation in city planning by architectural groups. 


Mussolini's daughter, Edda, is jailed for two years for aiding 


The first issue oiNi/mero (Number) is published in Milan. 
One of many short-lived northern Italian art journals of 
this period, Numero would last until April 1946. Many of 
the previous members of Corrente are involved with the 
journal, as well as with // '4$ (1945) and Pittura (Painting). 

10. Alcide De Gasperi becomes Italy's first Christian 
Democratic Prime Minister. He would remain in this 
position through eight different governments, until August 
17, 1953- 


Alberto Burri returns to Italy and devotes himself to 

The Manifesto bianco (White manifesto) is written by Lucio 
Fontana's students in Buenos Aires. Although the 
manifesto represents Fontana's ideas, his name does not 
appear on the document, which is signed by Bernardo 
Arias, Pablo Arias, Enrique Benito, Cesar Bernal, Rodolfo 
Burgos, Horacio Cazenueve, Luis Coll, Marcos Fridman, 
Alfredo Hansen, and Jorge Rocamonte. 

Franco Albini and Giancarlo Palanti become editors ot the 
temporarily revived journal Casabella. 

Comunita (Community), a review of Italian culture, begins 
publication in Rome. The magazine would put out six 
issues — which would include writings by prominent 
cultural critics and intellec tuals sir h as Cesare Brandi, 
Alberto Moravia, Ernesto Rossi, and Lionello Venturi— 
before moving in April 1947 to Turin. There, Comunita 
would put out twenty-six issues edited by Adriano 
Olivetti. In 1949 the review would move to Milan and 
begin to concentrate on art, philosophy. 1 ulture, and 

// Manuali dell'Architetto (The an. hite< t's manual ►, edited 
by Aldo Cardelli, Mario Fiorentino, Mario Ridolfi, and 

c<6i Lisa \\i>, 

Princess Luciana Pignatelli, Valentino 
(Val in ino Garavani), and hem 
Galit ine arrive in Neu York to 
participate in the first International 
Hautt Couturt Fashion benefit m 
Septi mber 196$. APIWorld Wide Photos. 

'//■< (./Mtiiliii ciuto factory in Turin, 
1948. AP/Wide World Photos 

n Prince I W/c rto (left), 
Lieutenant General of the Realm, u bo 
titlt King I ' ml>i rto II in 
I ittorio Emanuele III 
\r Widi World Photos. 

Bruno Zevi and sponsored by the CNR (Consiglio 
Nazionale delle Ricerche/National Council of Research) 
and USIS (United States Information Service) is published 
in Rome. 

Rossellini's film Paisa (Compatriot; released in English as 
Paisan) is released. Documenting the Allied invasion of 
Italy and the encounter of Italian and American cultures, 
the film conveys, with a striking sense of immediacy, the 
tragedy and desperation wrought by the war. Rossellini's 
brand of documentary realism, known as neorealismo 
(neorealism), is marked by its commitment to social 
realism, employing nonprofessional actors, shooting on 
location, and even using actual newsreel footage, and is 
characterized by its reportage, or documentarylike quality. 

Vittorio De Sica's Sciuscid (released in English as Sboeshine) 
is released. This story of two shoeshine boys documents the 
loss of innocence and youth. 

Luigi Zampa's film Vivere in pace (released in English as To 
Live in Peace) is released, and is awarded the 1947 New York 
Film Critics' Award for best foreign feature. Closer to 
traditional Italian comedy than to stark neorealism, 
Zampa's film traces the events that occur in a small Italian 
village when two escaped American prisoners-of-war 
encounter a German soldier. 

Irene Galitzine opens her own atelier in Rome. Although 
she would take part in fashion shows during the 1960s, she 
would decline an invitation to participate in the first 
Italian High Fashion Show, in Florence in 1951, unsure of 
Italy's ability to create a distinctive national style that could 
compete with the dominant French aesthetic. In i960, she 
would become known as the inventor of the loose-fitting, 
wide-legged pants named (by Diana Vreeland in an article 
for Vogue magazine) the Palazzo pyjama. 

Fernanda Gattinoni opens her own studio in Rome. In 1952 
she would create the costumes for Ingrid Bergman in 
Roberto Rossellini's film Stromboli, terra di Dio (Stromboli, 
land of God; released in English as Stromboli). She would 
also design Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe for the film War 
and Peace, in 1959. 

RIMA (Riunione Italiana Mostre Arredamento/Italian 
Conference of Furnishings Exhibitions) is founded by a 
group of architects interested in interior design. 

Aldo Delia Rocca, Mario De Renzi, Luigi Piccinato, and 
Mario Ridolfi are charged with planning a new traffic 
system for Rome. The project increases in scope, 
developing into a major structural design for a new city 
plan. It initiates a ten-year debate on Roman urban 
renewal, dividing architects into two camps: those who are 
in favor of city planning and those who are against it. 

BBPR's Rationalist design for a monument to the fallen in 
German concentration camps is constructed at the 
Cimitero Monumentale, Milan. The open, metal-grid 
structure holds at its center an urn filled with earth taken 
from German concentration camps. (Among those whose 

662 Chronof 


lives the monument commemorates is Gian Luigi Banfi — 
the first "B" of BBPR). 

Olivetti renews its activity on the foreign market and 
establishes a New York sales office. Between 1946 and 1954 
the company would revi